Laos Struggles To Address Drug Problems

Amphetamine drug use and trafficking is widespread in Laos, with many cases involving authorities such as the police.

Acting Minister of Public Security Brigadier General Somkeo Silavong responded to questions raised by the National Assembly (NA) members at the ongoing NA session on Friday regarding the government’s measures to deal with this problem.

Mr Somkeo said it was hard to address the drug problems in Laos as many drug dealers hired authorities to facilitate their business. They did not only hire police but also prosecutors and judges as well.

“Some high-ranking officials facilitate drug trafficking so it’s hard to address the problem,” he said. The money to be made is big and this encourages people to commit c rimes and violate the laws, Mr Somkeo added.

He urged village authorities to cooperate with the police because local authorities were extremely familiar with the drug users and drug dealers’ activities in their areas.

He also asked the government to provide more budget funding and necessary equipment for the police in order to enable them to work effectively when it came to dealing with drug issues.

NA member for Champassak province Prof. Dr Phonethep Pholsena said the root of the problem was related to economic and poverty factors. In many countries, some high-ranking officials are also behind drug trafficking networks.

Prof. Dr Phonethep said, “Drug use and trafficking is like a war that destroys our country and we need to know how can we deal with it. I think we need to review our existing laws to identify what measures are needed.”

Despite the challenges, Mr Somkeo said his ministry would work hard to ensure that the police are taking responsibility to minimise drug problems in Laos.

He also emphasised the significance of building more rehabilitation centres to treat drug addicts, aiming to ensure they become better citizens.

“We will try to build more rehabilitation centres to treat drug victims. Somsa-nga centre only has the capacity to accommodate 8,000 people but more than 16,000 people go there for treatment,” he said.

Drugs are a human problem worldwide. They have a tendency to become an inherent evil which affects all people of the world and unfortunately, this epidemic has reached Laos.

This year authorities have seized a massive quantity of drugs which went up in smoke at That Luang esplanade last month to mark the 27th Anniversary of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

The illicit drugs burnt on the day included over 3.8 million amphetamine tablets, 238.5kg of heroin, 47.8kg of raw opium, 1,480kg of dried cannabis, 83.5kg of morphine and 22.3kg of ya ice.

This year authorities also closed 1,581 drug cases and arrested 2140 offenders including 420 females and 54 foreigners.

Source: Vientiane Times