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Govt voices concerns over drug abuse

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Article from Vientiane Times
Author: Vientiane Times Staff
Published: 05/06/2009
Newspaper section: International Cooperation

The illicit drugs situation in Laos was the focus of discussions held in Vientiane yesterday by officials from international organisations, embassies and the government sector.

The Lao government is very concerned about illicit drugs and the risks they pose to the country's social order and stability, saidChairmanof the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision, Mr Soubanh Srithirath, speaking at the 4 th High Level Illicit Drug Sector Working Group Meeting.

The meeting was held to discuss the illicit drug situation in Laos and fi nd ways to solve the problems and challenges faced by authorities in eliminating drugs. "I am pleased to announce that in March 2009 the draft National Drug Control Master Plan was approved in principal by the Lao government," he said. "To ensure effective implementation of the plan, I propose that a sub-working group on drugs and a subworking group on crime be established." "We are grateful that the US government is continuing to fund the Programme Facilitation Unit to coordinate and address drug issues and that the Luxembourg government has funded a project to help develop a National Drug Law Enforcement Strategy which will contribute to dealing with drug related crime," he added.

Mr Soubanh said the Lao government is fully committed to the elimination of opium production through alternative development and poverty reduction, controlling trans-national organised crime and drug traffic-cking. To curb the abuse of illicit drugs and related problems, including injected drug use and HIV/AIDS, effective measures to prevent and control illicit drug-related activities including corruption, crime and violence that negatively affect society, the economy, human security and overall development rank amongst the highest of national priorities, he said.Mr Soubanh said that fighting illicit drugs is a global issue that requires a joint collaborative response. He urged governments and the UN as well as other development partners to support the National Drug Control Master Plan and work together with the Lao government towards the vision of a drug free Asean.

The plan addresses the recent proliferation of illicit drug production, trafficking and abuse as well as related criminal activity in Laos. The plan responds to the heightened risks these activities pose to the country's social order and national stability through a comprehensive strategy. The master plan will facilitate implementation of the National Drug Law which the National Assembly passed on December 25, 2007, and was approved by the Lao President on January 14, 2008. The Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision will have an expanded mandate under the law and will coordinate implementation of the master plan.