Asean unity vital to combat drug trafficking

09 , 2013 | Source: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Asean drug bodies need to cooperate with international drug agencies in order to effectively combat drug trafficking within Southeast Asia, said a senior official at the Prime Minister′s Office (PMO) yesterday.

Speaking at a gathering of Asean ministers responsible for drug matters, Energy Minister at PMO Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Hj Mohd Yasmin Hj Umar said drug syndicates were becoming increasingly sophisticated in methods to manufacture and traffic drugs.

"Drug trafficking activities are also being carried out in the Asean region by non-Asean nationals, our cooperation should not be confined to agencies within the region but also those from beyond," he said at the opening of the meeting at The Empire Hotel & Country Club.

"To effectively address these emerging trends, our national and regional policies and strategies must be constantly reviewed and developed we must strive to remain one or more steps ahead of these criminals."

Representatives from all 10 Asean countries met in the capital for a mid-term review of the bloc′s plan for a drug-free Asean by 2015.

The minister added that the ministerial meeting on drugs was an important platform to monitor progress towards this vision.

As Asean aims to forge a single economic community by 2015, drug syndicates could take advantage of greater connectivity between states.

"Therefore, it will no longer be sufficient for domestic law enforcement agencies to act alone to combat cross-border drug trafficking," said YB Pehin Hj Mohd Yasmin.

The grouping aims to tackle three areas illicit cultivation of drugs; manufacturing and trafficking of drugs, and the prevalence of illicit drug use.

The minister commended officials for setting up the Airport Interdiction Task Force (AITF) which he said has made "significant progress" in combating the drug trade.

He also urged member countries to forge ahead with an Asean treaty that would provide member states with mutual legal assistance on criminal matters. Such a treaty could also pave the way for partnerships with non-Asean states.

"Seeing that the menace of drugs extends beyond our Asean borders, working closely with our dialogue partners is necessary. Hence, cooperation between the Asean senior officials meeting on drug matters and our dialogue partners must be enhanced and more initiatives should be developed."


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