The drug-related deaths that occurred during the large-scale crackdown by the first Thaksin Shinawatra government could be regarded as crimes against humanity through systematic state-sponsored atrocities, a member of a government investigation committee said yesterday.
Charnchao Chaiyanukij said yesterday that the Khanit na Nakhon panel found that former interior minister Sermsak Pongpanit, acting on the orders of former prime minister Thaksin, ordered all provincial governors to submit a blacklist of drug dealers and runners within seven days.
"First, police made arrests, then made announcements welcoming the dealers' surrender," he said.
"But according to what was widely reported at the time, most of them were shot dead mysteriously after they gave themselves up."
Of the more than 2,500 deaths, the Khanit panel found that 1,200 killings were not committed by rival drug traffickers or other dealers to silence one another, but were mostly extrajudicial killings by police, which were never thoroughly investigated.
Charnchao said many provincial governors had testified to the Khanit panel, set up by the Surayud government, that a shoot-to-kill order was issued internally among high-ranking Interior Ministry officials.
"The governors then relayed the orders to provincial police chiefs to follow," he added.
He said public prosecutors also "danced along by not ordering mandatory investigations into more than 800 extrajudicial killings by police, in violation of the Criminal Procedural Code.
-The Nation/Asia News Network