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Eradicating drug abuse and illicit trafficking

28 November 2018 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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‘Drug’ is a substance which is especially addictive and hallucinogenic i.e. something causing illusion. It is a chemical people use to enjoy pleasant and exciting feelings. In many countries the use of such drugs is illegal while other drugs which are of medicinal value and not harmful are not illegal. 

According to Buddhism one should abstain from intoxicants, drugs, alcohol and smoking in order to protect and observe ‘Pansil’ (Five moralities).  “Surameraya majjapama datthana veramani sikkhapadan samadhiyami” is the last of the five moralities. Though it is the last of the five moralities it is equally important as the other four moralities. As pointed out by the Enlightened One, the ill effects of drugs is obvious and well-known to everyone in the society; including the very users of drugs or drug addicts. Drug addicts are aware of the suffering they had undergone, presently undergoing and will have to undergo in the future. They expect to enjoy pleasant and exciting feelings. They themselves are aware of the fact that such feelings are invariably temporary. They are also fully aware of the suffering they have to undergo physically, mentally, socially culturally, economically and in various other ways.  Most of the drug addicts admit that they are suffering, but yet for all they are reluctant to find and follow effective ways of getting over it. Most of the drug addicts try to find solace by repeatedly using drugs. “One who has fallen into a well should come out of the mouth of the same well” they say  Thus they keep on using drugs and ruin themselves and very often end in misery and disaster.

Drugs under control 

The United Nations office on drugs and crime and its campaign only focus on drugs subject to control as specified in multi lateral drugs treaties that form the backbone of the international control system. These illicit drugs include amphetamine type stimuli or synthetic stimulant drugs -Cocaine, Cannabis, Hallucinogens, Opiates and sedative hypnotics.  In addition to these in our own country there are various kinds of locally manufactured illegal drugs such as Kasippu, Ganja, Bhang and Karingnan. Further various kinds of illegal drugs are smuggled into the country.   

Cocaine use in Western Europe is of particular concern where the consumption is reaching alarming levels. Cannabis, which is grown and used all over the world, is challenging

Gravity of the problem

According to the information available nearly two hundred million people throughout the world are using illegal drugs – Cannabis, Marijuana, Amphetamine and Methamphetamine type stimulants. Globally an estimated sixteen million people use opiates –opium morphine heroin synthetic opiates and some thirteen million people use cocaine. The number of persons using drugs is likely to be much more as there can be many who had not been reckoned in surveys.

Cocaine use in Western Europe is of particular concern where the consumption is reaching alarming levels. Cannabis, which is grown and used all over the world, is challenging. The drug’s potency is being increased in recent years and there are indications that Cannabis related mental health may have been under estimated.  Opiate use along trafficking routes originating from Afghanistan, the world’s highest opium producer is the highest in the world.

Controlling mind and body     

It is crystal clear that no individual family or community is safe if drugs take control of even a single member of such a family or the community. Drugs control the body and mind of individual consumers.  Drug crop and drug cartels control the farmers. Illicit trafficking of drugs is the other serious problem. In a bid to earn more money farmers tend to engage in Marijuana farming and in the production of other kinds of drugs. In Sri Lanka Ganja is planted in thick forests, rugged terrains and and other accessible lands. In spite of raids conducted by the police,  the dangerous Drugs Control Board, the Excise Department etc. drugs production, illicit trafficking, distilling of Kasippu, pot Arrack etc. and other illegal acts relating to drugs including illicit trafficking of drugs are being carried out. 

Human trafficking

In the past underprivileged people were engaged in forced labour   by the privileged and affluent classes. At present millions of people are probably suffering due to human trafficking - the modern day slavery. Human trafficking is taking place in all corners of the world in spite of legal provision against it, According to the reports of the United Nations Office on drugs and crime victims from one hundred and twenty seven countries undergo human trafficking. In one hundred and thirty nations human trafficking is a profitable business. The United Nations and other experts estimate the total market value of human trafficking to thirty two Billion American Dollars.

Most of the drug addicts admit that they are suffering, but yet for all they are reluctant to find and follow effective ways of getting over it. Most of the drug addicts try to find solace by repeatedly using drugs

Tackling the problem

This is a global issue and any individual Government cannot deal with this problem alone. With this view in mind the United Nations General Assembly adopted a political declaration on the global drug problem. Its initial statement is as follows:  “Drugs destroy lives and communities, undermine human development and generate crime. Drugs affect all sections of the society in all countries. In particular drug abuse affects the freedom and development of young people- the world’s most valuable asset.

Three “P” s in the U.N. Protocol 

The United Nation’s protocols to prevent, suppress, and punish trafficking in persons; especially women and children came into force in 2008. The U N O D C Executive Director, Antonin Maria Costa once said “Political will is growing as evidenced by the increasing number of countries that have ratified the UN protocol against trafficking of persons. The thematic debate is focused on the three “P” s of the protocol of the protocol-preventing, protection and prosecution. It is built on the momentum generated by the first ever global forum held in Vienna in February 2008 by UN global initiative to fight human trafficking. That forum brought together 1,200 Government and civil society representatives as well as celebrities, philanthropists –those who love the human kind, the media, parliamentarians, business leaders and faith based organisations from 166 countries to launch an unprecedented   global effort to eradicate the menace of drug abuse. 

In order to have an accurate picture of the true extent  of the crime a data collection exercise has been undertaken to collect data relating to trafficking routes trafficker profiles and vulnerable  groups and regions. The slogan of the U N O D C anti drugs campaign is ‘Drugs control your life and your community. There is no place for drugs’. 

Prevention is to stop something from happening or to stop someone from doing something. Hence, prevention of drug production is to stop the production of drugs. For that purpose someone should stop the activities of drug production.  Drug producers should either be persuaded to stop or forced to stop such activities. To persuade someone to stop drug production activities the ill effects of drug production activities should be explained and emphasised to the culprits.  The ill effects are numerous as have already been pointed out.  The drugs produced by them ruin the lives of the users, their families and the whole society including the younger generation.  However, it is not a simple task to persuade the drug producers of the need to put an end to the production of drugs. It is a profitable business venture which they will not give up for the sake of others who are their customers. Trafficking in drugs and human trafficking are even more profitable and those who are involved in such activities will make all efforts to continue with such activities regardless of the impending disaster.

Protection is the act of keeping something or someone safe so that he, she or it is not harmed or damaged. In this instance protection means the measures to be taken to save the people, especially the young generation without being ruined from drug addiction. Parents, teachers, social workers and the community as a whole are responsible to ensure that no child is allowed to get addicted to drugs. Vulnerable individuals or those who are likely to get addicted to drugs should be identified and diverted on to the correct path. Addiction should be nipped in the bud. This should be done initially at home and the school by parents and teachers. Children should be directed to virtuous ways of living. Parents should not allow their children access to illicit drugs. Very often drug addiction originates from smoking. Hence, youngsters can be saved from drug addiction by not allowing them to get into the habit of smoking. Getting involved in sports and good habits and the association with good and sincere friends will pave the way for children to the correct path. 

Trafficking in drugs and human trafficking are even more profitable and those who are involved in such activities will make all efforts to continue with such activities regardless of the impending disaster

Protection and assistance     

Drug addicts need assistance and guidance to recover. They may be brainwashed in attempts made to find solutions for their problems themselves.  Thus they should be protected from being ruined.   

Punishing incorrigible culprits

Drug addicts who cannot be directed onto the correct path,  offenders of drug production, trafficking in drugs and human traffickers should be severely punished. New laws should be introduced in addition to the existing ones to punish the offenders.

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