Laos takes tough stance against drugs
Author: Vientiane Times Reporters
Newspaper section: International Cooperation
Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong along with ambassadors and representatives of UN agencies and international organisations gathered yesterday at That Luang esplanade in Vientiane to dispose of drugs seized by authorities.
The National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision (LCDC) was asked by the government to dispose of the contraband to mark the 24th anniversary of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. "We will be destroying a variety of drugs confiscated by law enforcement officers," LCDC Chairman Mr Soubanh Srithirath remarked before the ceremony.
Drugs destroyed included 77 packets of heroin, 1.2 million amphetamine tablets, 250 grams of cocaine, 2224 kg of dried cannabis, 7.7 kg of opium and 1.4 million tablets of a cold medicine containing a chemical precursor used to produce amphetamines.
Mr Soubanh said the drugs burnt constituted the evidence of 47 court cases in Vientiane and the suburbs, resulting in 93 offenders being sentenced. "I would like to further inform our gathering that this occasion forms part of the implementation of the National Drug Control Master Plan 2009-2013," he said.
The master plan includes nine strategic programmes including ending opium production while ensuring food security and poverty alleviation for former opium poppy growers, he added. "As far as international relations are concerned, I would like to quote what has been said by Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong: 'Drugs are an international issue which crosses borders' and Laos seems to bear the brunt as most production occurs outside our borders."
Drug consumers and abusers generally come from abroad, while it is almost certain that drug traffickers come from other countries or continents, he noted. This can create complications for law enforcement officers due. to the involvement of other major stakeholders, which is not always cohesive, Mr Soubanh said.
Towards the end of the year, Asean senior officials involved in drug control will attend a trilateral meeting of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia to discuss ways of managing the issue. A further meeting with Thailand, Myanmar and China has also been announced.
In addition, Laos, as a member of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) of the United Nations, is fulfilling its role to contribute to a drug free world. "In the long term, drugs have a dangerous impact on security, stability and national socio-economic development, so the Party and government are seriously committed to fighting this social evil," Mr Soubanh said.
From July 2010 to May 2011, law enforcement officials seized drugs in 217 cases, arresting 1,216 suspects including 27 foreigners. Drugs seized totalled 63kg of heroin, 12kg of opium, 262kg of ATS and 1,864kg of herbal cannabis. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) representative to Laos Mr Leik Boonwaat said Laos faces a serious threat from the resurgence of opium poppy cultivation and increases in the transnational trafficking of ATS, heroin and other drugs that contribute to increases in drug abuse and negative social problems.
The Lao government has shown its strong political will to address these issues by approving the 2009-2013 UN master plan. "I would like to reiterate our support to the Lao government for implementing the National Drug Control Master Plan," Mr Leik said.