Thursday, September 8, 2016


           Jakarta, Sept 8, 2016 (Antara) - A drug-free ASEAN by 2015 might deem a failure, but it does not mean that the ASEAN member countries have abandoned the dream. The ASEAN countries, in fact, have determined to pursue the goal.
         It was at the 31st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July 1998, when ASEAN foreign ministers signed the Joint Declaration for a Drug-Free ASEAN by 2020 that affirmed the Association¿s commitment to eradicate illicit drug production, processing, trafficking and abuse by the year 2020 in ASEAN.
           And two years later, at the 33rd ASEANMinisterial Meeting in July 2000, the governments agreed to advance the target year for realizing a Drug-Free ASEAN to 2015. 
     In 2015, many ASEAN countries were still struggling to deal with the drug abuse and trafficking that have many young people and could threaten the regional security and stability due to the transnational crimes.
         In Indonesia, for instance, drug abuse is responsible for the deaths of 50 Indonesians, mostly youngmen, every day.
          Indonesia is one of the few countries to have imposed the harshest drug laws in the world. And President Joko Widodo had emphasized that he would not grant clemency to drug convicts, , despite protests from several countries and parties at home.  The country executed 14 drug convicts last year, and four this year.    
   Indonesia is not the only ASEAN member countries that have declared a war on illicit drug abuse and offences.

         The Philippines, for instance, under President Rodigro Duterte, has intensified a war on drugs.
        As of August 31, police records show 929 drug suspects have been killed in government operations, while 1,507 have been killed by unknown attackers, and 10 police officers killed during drugs operations, according to Aljazeera.  That brings the total fatalities to at least 2,446.
        Duterte took his oath as president on June 30 this year, and has vowed to keep his campaign promise of solving the country's illegal drugs problem.
        Recent trends on increased illicit drug manufacturing, new trafficking patterns and growing drug abuse calls for countries in the region to intensify their collaborative efforts if a Drug-Free ASEAN is to be realized.
         Last July, Indonesia hosted the First ASEAN Seaport Interdiction Task Force (ASITF) meeting in Batam, Riau Islands Province, to curb drug trafficking in Southeast Asia.
         The results of ASITF meeting will become the focal point for the member countries to eradicate illicit drug trafficking, according to Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno LP Marsudi in Vientiane, Laos, on Sept. 6.
        Minister Marsudi and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto presented the meeting¿s results to the 14th ASEAN Political and Security Council (APSC) meeting held prior to the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits attended by ASEAN Leaders in Vientiane, Sept. 6-8.
        The first ASITF meeting was held in Batam, Riau Islands  in July 20-21 this year. One of the agreements reached at the Batam meeting was the setting up of an Early Detection Task Force at ASEAN seaports to prevent drug trafficking.
        Indonesia spoke about a situation of "very alarming emergency" related to drug trafficking, and welcomed the forming of a special agency in the APSC to realize a drug-free ASEAN.
          ASEAN cooperation is crucial in combating drug abuse and trafficking as well as other transnational crimes.
          Therefore, Minister Wiranto, speaking at the Vientiane meeting gave a clarion call to ASEAN countries to join hands to respond to the problem of illicit drug trafficking.
           "Indonesia, like many other countries in ASEAN, is increasingly facing the problem of illicit drug trafficking by sea. We must strengthen our joint efforts in responding to this problem," Wiranto said before ministers from 10 ASEAN member countries.
           ASITF is a forum that reflects the commitment of ASEAN countries to eradicate drugs. Its purpose is to act as a platform for law enforcement officials to collaborate, coordinate and take initiative to prohibit illicit drug trafficking through checkpoints at international ports in the ASEAN region.
          "The extent of drug trafficking in Indonesia is increasingly a matter of worrying. Though it is not an easy task, the new body should be able to free the ASEAN countries of the problem of drug trafficking," Minister Wiranto observed.
          All member countries gave full support for the setting up of the task force of interdiction at ASEAN seaports, according to deputy for Law and Cooperation of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) Arief Wicaksana as chairman of ASITF.
          The meeting  agreed that drug abuses, trafficking and precursor could not be controlled alone by a country, but has to be dealt with through regional or international cooperation, without violating national sovereignty, he said.
          In the meantime, the Indonesian police in April 2016  destroyed 144 kg of crystal methamphetamine, 44 kg of liquid methamphetamine, 197,874 ecstasy pills, and 579 tons of dried hashish seized during raids carried out by the police, the BNN, and the Customs Excise office.
             The drugs had been smuggled into Indonesia from Malaysia, China, Singapore, the Netherlands, Iran, Taiwan and Cambodia, by international drug syndicates.
          The National Narcotics Agency (BNN) has said it needs political support from the government as well as the parliament if it is to perform its duty in an optimal fashion to eradicate drug abuse.
           Commissioner General Budi Waseso, head of the agency, said in a hearing with the House of Representative's Commission III in the House's building on Sept. 6 that handling illegal drug trafficking is not an easy task.
        Other than dealing with at least 72 syndicates that operate in Indonesia, the Agency also has to contend with the fact that these groups have sophisticated tools and have access to massive funds to carry out their ill-advised acts.
         Despite the shortcomings, the Agency has managed to seize at least 50 kilograms of methamphetamine, valued at one billion rupiah per kilogram. ***2***
(T.F001/A/BESSR/) 08-09-2016 23:58:13

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