South Asia:  Promoting information sharing in drug - related matters

South Asian countries share concerns regarding transnational organized crime, in particular the trafficking of illicit drugs, including heroin, synthetic drugs, cannabis and pharmaceutical preparations containing narcotic substances, as well as of precursors like ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

All countries in the region have solid national legislation and mechanisms to address drug trafficking, however, there is an urgent need to collaborate across borders and share real time information, given the transnational nature of drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime. Regional information sharing platforms can help strengthen cooperation in criminal matters related to drug trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crimes (TOC) including money laundering.

A common regional information sharing platform can help in overcoming organisational and legal obstacles that law enforcement officials currently face when seeking quick and timely information on criminals or their operations that involve several countries. It will help in inter-agency, intra-regional and regional information-sharing. Such structures can also involve the cooperation of other inter-governmental organisations like INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization, linking intelligence sharing and cooperation mechanisms in South Asia to other parts of the world, thereby expanding the scope and efficiency.

In several countries across the globe, UNODC has facilitated the establishment of platforms for information sharing. These include the Central Asian Regional Information Coordination Centre (CARICC), the Gulf Criminal Intelligence Centre (GCIC), the Joint Planning Cell (JPC) for Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, the Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre (SELEC) and the Asia-Pacific Information and Coordination Centre for Combating Drug Crimes (APICC).   

To facilitate the creation of a similar platform in the region, UNODC recently organized an expert group meeting of focal points of key drug law enforcement agencies from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka to discuss this possibility and consider the various options for such a platform. UNODC shared its expertise in the setting up of existing models of regional cooperation in other parts of the world, which were discussed by the experts.  The meeting concluded with a consensus for the development of a regional platform in South Asia for which further details are now under consideration.  

The expert group meeting was conducted under the UNODC regional project, XSA J81 titled: Strengthening of drug law enforcement capacities in South Asia, financially supported by the Government of India.