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Asia quickens ‘failing’ war on drugs

BANGKOK/YANGON (Reuters) – The Philippines has launched a bloody “war on drugs” that has killed hundreds in just two months, while neighboring Indonesia has declared a “narcotics emergency” and resumed executing drug convicts after a long hiatus.

In Thailand and Myanmar, petty drug users are being sentenced to long jail terms in prisons already bursting at the seams.

The soaring popularity of methamphetamine – a cheap and highly addictive drug also known as meth or shabu – is driving countries across Asia to adopt hardline anti-narcotics policies. Experts say they are likely to only make things worse.

Geoff Monaghan has seen it all before. He investigated narco-trafficking gangs during his 30-year career as a detective with London’s Metropolitan Police, then witnessed the impact of draconian anti-drug policies as an Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome expert in Russia.

“We have plenty of data but often we forget the history,” said Monaghan. “That’s the problem.