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Project Code and Sector
Project Background and Justification
Immediate Objective, Outputs and Main Activities
Counterpart, Institutional Setting and Implementing Arrangements
Financial Information

AD/RAS/95/B65 - Development of drug control operational procedures of law enforcement agencies in East Asia

1. Project Code and Sector

No. and Title: AD/RAS/95/B65 - Development of drug control operational procedures of law enforcement agencies in East Asia
Status/Starting Date: 2 July 1997
Project Function: Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Controlled Precursors
Duration: 3 years
Executing Agency: UNODC
Associate Agency: United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
Aggregate Budget
Aggregate Budget & Funding Source: US$ 913,000 (USA US$ 813,179; Japan US$ 99,821)


2. Project Background and Justification

Remote areas within the subregion comprising Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar Thailand and Vietnam have long been a source of opium and heroin production for world markets. South East Asian heroin continues to reach abusers in North America, Europe and Australasia by means of ever changing trafficking routes and ingenious methods of delivery. Although from time to time there have been impressive seizures in the region, the total amount of drug intercepted in any one year is only a small percentage of the total production. Persons apprehended in the past have largely been couriers and/or small time dealers whose removal from the scene has had little or no effect on the overall position. Of recent times the situation has worsened with the emergence of ATS [Amphetamine Type Stimulants] as a international substance of abuse, with increasing popularity among young people, and it is often manufactured and handled by the same regional groups as deal in heroin. The production of heroin and ATS both require certain chemical ingredients in the refining processes and these are smuggled to the manufacturing locations by a variety of clandestine arrangements. The authorities therefore are faced with the situation of precursor chemicals being moved into production areas while dangerous drugs are being moved away from them. In some places, shipments are escorted by armed people and interception by enforcement officers can be met with fierce resistence. The six countries do not have identical concerns, but one way or another they all have serious problems with the production, consumption or transit of illicit drugs and the transit of precursor chemicals. Each country also faces differing degrees of support from its general public for drug suppression initiatives. This can be attributed to the fact that some agencies lack integrity in the eyes of the people and do not operate under high standards of professional performance.

While it is generally not difficult to prosecute to conviction persons caught in possession of drugs, it is entirely another matter to bring to justice those top levels culprits who finance and organise the manufacture, shipping and distribution arrangements. They are the people who make the vast profits from the drug trade and they are often protected by corrupt officials and highly placed persons. They rarely use drugs themselves and they take care to avoid connection with drug consignments. To successfully prosecute such people requires modern investigative methods, enlightened strategies and well trained and capable investigators. It also requires good international cooperation. Because drug dealing does not recognise territorial borders it is not uncommon for evidence of complicity to be available in more than one jurisdiction and for profits reaped in one country to be invested in another. An essential requirement for each state is to have an efficient system for collecting and processing information. Operational cooperation between enforcement agencies - especially information sharing - is vital to the criminal investigation process. Hitherto, it seldom existed but the situation is being steadily improved through project initiatives.

The United Nations Convention Against Illicit Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988, urges parties to permit the rapid exchange of information at the operational level and to develop policies, strategies and procedures which will enable countries to seek assistance from neighbouring territories in investigations that range across borders. The convention also calls on member states to develop close coordination between and among agencies in the same country. The project has programmes to pursue these. Until now, countries tended to handle drug trafficking crime locally - and not always with a great degree of success. In the past, cooperation between countries in investigative matters was not a common occurrence and enforcement personnel generally did not even know their counterparts in adjacent countries. That is all now changing under the guidance of the project. Officers are now on first name terms with counterparts and know [and trust] them well enough to telephone when urgent contact is needed. Lower level contact is sometimes not so good because of language difficulties but this is a point to be addressed as the project progresses. Countries now clearly appreciate the need for legislation, alliances, agreements and common procedures and they are being introduced, albeit slowly.

The Subregional Action Plan for Drug Control, approved in May 1995 by the governments of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam and by the UNODC, now encompasses twelve projects. Six of them, including this one, have a law enforcement perspective and are aimed at improving the capacity of the enforcement agencies to suppress, investigate and prosecute drug crime and drug-related crime. This project specifically seeks to improve the operational procedures of the key agencies so that with necessary assistance and support from home and abroad they can confidently undertake investigations into even major offenders. The project has four elements - creating internal coordination, building international cooperation, developing professional capability and encouraging personal commitment. UNODC assistance will mainly be in the nature of providing support, guidance, advice, and training through workshops, seminars and courses. The countries are at different stages in the development of their drug control programmes thus the level of support will vary from state to state. However, each country has an organisational structure to meet the requirements of the project and because each government has signalled commitment to the plan, there is every confidence that significant achievement will result.


3. Immediate Objective, Outputs and Main Activities

A. Immediate Objective:
To develop agreements in and between subregional countries for the adoption of mechanisms and procedures to permit the lawful use of specialised enforcement techniques described in the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and the effective prosecution of drug traffickers and other major offenders.

B. Main Project Activities:
A subregional meeting of senior representatives from legislative, judicial prosecutorial and enforcement sectors to permit each country to advise and discuss existing procedures required for cooperation on such areas as information/evidence exchange, controlled deliveries and seizure of assets.

National workshops to review the capacity to cooperate; the drafting of national policies to meet the cooperation expected by the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances; UNODC legal assistance when required; and drafting of operating policies and procedures by the Customs and Police to provide for investigational cooperation.

National workshops for operational commanders to discuss the practical application of the procedures and the drafting of operating practices. Subregional workshops for operational managers to promote cooperation.

Subregional meetings of senior representatives to review the procedures for cooperation. Evaluation of the progress in cooperation in drug and precursor related matters.

C. Project Outputs:
Mutual understanding by national drug law enforcement and related organizations of the legal requirements for cooperating and conducting international drug investigations.

Agreement by national law enforcement and related organizations to draft policy and procedures to be followed when undertaking international cooperation in drug investigations or inquiries.


4. Counterpart, Institutional Setting and Implementing Arrangements

The project will be executed by UNODC with the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) as Associated Agency for the recruitment of the Project Coordinator and the international consultants. The UNODC Regional Centre, Bangkok, will liaise with the Government agencies concerned to coordinate activities of the project through regular meetings to exchange information and coordinate activities where appropriate. A Programme Steering Committee and Senior Officials Meetings established under the MOU will also meet annually to review progress and provide overall policy guidance on the implementation of the Subregional Action Plan including this project. The services of a Project Coordinator with experience at senior level in a law enforcement agency will be utilized for a period of six months per annum, working in close liaison with the Law Enforcement Adviser in the UNODC Regional Centre, Bangkok. The UNODC Legal Advisory Programme (Vienna) will be liaised on the legal components of the project. International enforcement agencies such as ICPO Interpol and the World Customs Organization will be kept advised of the project and, where appropriate, requested to provide expertise. The direct beneficiaries will be the law enforcement agencies of the MOU countries responsible for the prosecution of major drug traffickers.


5. Financial Information

Project Budget in US$ (app)
Personnel 392,200
Training 415,600
Support Cost 99,700
Total 907,500