|Customs officers use dogs to find drugs smuggled in luggage. Việt Nam is still struggling to tackle drug trafficking and needs international community support to win the battle. VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Hùng|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam is still struggling to tackle drug trafficking and needs international community support to win the battle, says Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam.
Việt Nam is adjacent to the notorious opium-producing Golden Triangle region which overlaps the borders of three Southeast Asian countries: Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. One consequence of this is that Việt Nam unintentionally became a key transaction place for drug smuggling and has seen a high number of drug addicts over the years.
"It is not surprising that drug prevention is a priority in the Vietnamese government’s agenda. We are finally seeing positive results in the fight," said the Deputy PM in a meeting with the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board Vice President Jagjit Pavadia on Tuesday.
2015 marked the first year in over two decades that the number of drug addicts in Việt Nam declined. Compared to 2014, the number of drug addicts declined by more than 4,000 in 2015. About 200,000 drug addicts had been identified and counted, as of January this year.
The 2015 decrease followed the elimination of both mandatory rehab at state centres - and of the Centre for Treatment, Education and Social Workforce known as Centre 06 - which were proven to be ineffective in treating drug addiction. The relapse rate of patients treated at those centres was more than 90 per cent, according to government reports.
The extension of the national programme providing free methadone treatment as a substitute for drugs - and the fast increase in centres offering voluntary rehab programmes - resulted in good outcomes in curbing drugs addiction, said the Deputy PM.
Drug trafficking on the rise
Việt Nam’s efforts to tackle drug smuggling scored impressive results, according to the statistics reported.
In 2015, the police seized about 10 tonnes of drugs of all kinds, from heroin and opium to marijuana and crystal meth. Nearly 30,000 people involved in drug trafficking rings were arrested, according to Public Security Deputy Minister Senior Lieutenant General Lê Quý Vượng.
Yet despite harsh penalties for drug smugglers in Việt Nam – including a death sentence for anyone carrying 100 grams of heroin or cocaine – the drug trafficking situation continues to grow worse.
Police reports show that the amount of heroine and synthetic drugs seized in 2015 increased by 72.5 and 173 per cent respectively, compared to the previous year. These statistics indicate increasing illegal activity by transnational smuggling rings in the region.
The Laotian border to the west, and the Chinese border to the north, stand out as hot spots for drug smuggling, involving Vietnamese, Laotian and Chinese citizens in massive trafficking rings.
“So from 2016 on, Việt Nam will focus on intercepting narcotic supplies, as well on eliminating domestic drug hot spots,” said Deputy PM Đam.
“Việt Nam also hopes that the United Nations and the international community will continue their support for Viet Nam in the fight against drugs,” he said.
For her part, Pavadia affirmed that her board and the UN will mobilise various resources to help Việt Nam with communications campaigns, policy consultancy, and improving the legal system. — VNS