Drug officials ask regional experts for more help
Author: Souknilundon Southivongnorath
Newspaper section: International Cooperation
Lao drug officials yesterday asked for more assistance at a meeting held in Vientiane with regional experts on drug abuse in Laos. Police Department Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Public Security, Colonel Khamphon Sihapanya, said the meeting was another opportunity for participants to consider, review and discuss ways to combat drugs and crime in Laos after following up the previous meeting's agreement.
The Fourth Crime Sub-Sector Working Group Meeting, supported by UNODC, aimed to share experiences and methodology among participants and local officials.
The third meeting was considered a success because of the many achievements that followed in combating drug abuse in Laos. "We found many ways to solve this problem in the previous meeting and we applied these to our work in the field so we were able to solve many problems relating to drugs and crime," Colomel Khamphon said. But there were still some problems that needed addressing, he said, and this meeting would be a good opportunity to share experiences and discuss ongoing work in the field.
The objective of the Fourth Meeting of the Sub-Working Group on Crime under the Illicit Drug Sector Working Group is to stamp out illicit drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering, corruption, terrorism and other serious crimes of a transnational or organised nature that endanger society and its legitimate ways of life. Such activities victimise people, undermine the security and stability of society, and consequently hinder socioeconomic development. UNODC Representative Mr Leik Boonwaat said Laos continues to be very vulnerable to threats from drugs and transnational crime. It has become a major transit route for drugs being transported from one country to a third one.
The Lao government set up the national Illicit Drug Sector Working Group under the National Drug and Crime Control Coordination Structure in 2008 to strengthen coordination in the fight against illicit drug trafficking and related crime, according to a UNODC press release. Under the group's leadership, the National Drug Control Master Plan was developed as a comprehensive strategy to control illicit drugs and was approved by the Lao government in 2009. Yesterday's meeting considered the Memorandum of Understanding on drug control in the Greater Mekong Subregion, computer based training on law enforcement techniques promoted by a UNODC global project, and UNODC regional projects on migrant smuggling and strengthening cross-border cooperation to be made by officers from the UNODC Regional Centre for East Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok.
UNODC reported that because enhanced regional cooperation is the key to effective response to threats of drug trafficking and related transnational organised crime, the presentations would be of much interest to Laos.