|Senior Lieutenant General Tô Lâm, Vietnamese Minister of Public Security speaks at the Sixth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Drug Matters. – VNA/VNS Photo Doãn Tấn|
HÀ NỘI – ASEAN countries have acknowledged the continuing threat from illicit drug production and trafficking in the region, including challenges posed by new psychoactive substances, the Sixth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Drug Matters heard.
The meeting, held in Hà Nội yesterday, was also told the use of Internet and post services to transport drugs was spreading in the region.
The countries, therefore, re-affirmed their strong commitment, and readiness to implement the proposed activities as guided by previous agreements.
As a large percentage of the population in the ASEAN region use the Internet and mobile devices, the risks of online purchases of illicit and counterfeit drugs are increasing.
Speaking at the event, Senior Lieutenant General Tô Lâm, Vietnamese Minister of Public Security said ASEAN countries have implemented several initiatives to tackle the problem, including opening drug control centres and placing drug prevention teams at airport and seaports.
“These initiatives have become effective partnerships in the exchange of information and the fight against illegal drugs in the region,” he said.
Senior Lieutenant General Lâm said, “The relationship between drugs, crime, and terrorism has become increasingly worrying, especially as drug crimes are increasingly linked to other crimes such as crime using high technology, money laundering and human trafficking.”
Việt Nam has prioritised measures to prevent illegal drug trading and transport across land borders, waterways and air routes.
Over the last six months of this year, Việt Nam discovered 13,600 drug trafficking and transporting cases, arrested 19,200 offenders and seized 950kg of heroin, 1,500kg of cannabis, 500kg of synthetic drugs and 44kg of opium. Việt Nam has made great efforts to eradicate narcotic plants and implement sustainable alternative development.
A representative of the Cambodian delegation at the conference said the country was not a drug producing country but has been affected by illicit drugs production and trafficking.
In 2017, total seizures of illicit narcotic substances came up to 180.2kg, a 35.10 per cent increase from the total seizure of 133.5kg of narcotic substances (excluding dried cannabis) in 2016.
“Most of the drug-use population are methamphetamine users and people aged 18-35 account for 88 per cent,” the representative said.
Drug prevention in Cambodia has been implemented mainly through education in the media and community-based channels to raise public awareness of the impacts of drugs.
The ministers reaffirmed ASEAN’s commitment to creating a drug-free ASEAN, through a zero-tolerance approach towards illicit drugs.
At the event, the ministers called on ASEAN members to maintain ASEAN unity in their participation at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and related meetings, especially during discussion of the future global drug plan at the 62nd CND in 2019.
Recognising that the illicit drug trafficking from the Golden Triangle (Thailand, Laos and Myanmar) will have a downstream effect on all ASEAN states, the ministers encouraged the countries to continue with activities in the ASEAN Cooperation Plan 2017-19.
The ministers meeting appreciated Thailand’s efforts to enhance ASEAN-wide border management co-operation to safeguard the region against the threats of transnational crime, including drug trafficking. — VNS