Police Brutality Against Injection Drug Users in Thailand Could Jeopardize AIDS Programs, Human Rights Watch Says
Police brutality against injection drug users in Thailand could jeopardize the success of HIV/AIDS programs that will be funded through a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, according to a Human Rights Watch release. The fund on Oct. 16 announced the grant, which will provide funding for the development of peer support programs and increased access to prevention information, HIV testing and health care for injection drug users. Health officials estimate that 60% of injection drug users in the country are HIV-positive. According to HRW, a recent crackdown on injection drug users -- in which Thai police say approximately 2,700 drug users were killed -- could "push drug users into hiding and drive them from HIV prevention services." Joanne Csete, director of the HIV/AIDS and Human Rights program at HRW, said, "Violent crackdowns won't solve Thailand's drug problem, but they will fuel its AIDS epidemic," adding, "Preventing HIV requires working respectfully with drug users, not trampling on their rights" (HRW release, 10/31). HRW in August released a report on the effects of similar police brutality against injection drug users in Bangladesh (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/20). HRW has urged the Global Fund to monitor human rights abuses in Thailand, request an independent evaluation of the health impact of the country's anti-drug campaign and include human rights requirements in any financial assistance it provides to the Thai government (HRW release, 10/31).
Additional information on AIDS in Thailand is available online through kaisernetwork.org's Issue Spotlight on AIDS