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Drug abuse national security threat, says Singh

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18 January 2012 AMRITSAR Border Security Force officials showing 17 kilogram heroine valued at around Rs 85 crore in international market and about Rs 10 lakh fake Indian currency notes which were smuggled by a Pak smuggler who was shot dead by BSF patrolling party near Bhairowal border outpost near Indo Pak international border about 50km from Amritsar on Wednesday. PHOTO PRABHJOT GILL AMRITSAR

IN03_RAJNATH_1981452fNew Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on Wednesday, termed drug abuse a threat to public health and even national security.

“Our global society is facing serious consequences of drug abuse. It undermines the socio-economic and political stability and sustainable development,” Rajnath Singh said.

The minister was addressing the inaugural session of the Sub-Regional Drug Focal Point Meeting and Drug Demand Reduction Expert Group Consultation, South Asia organised by Narcotics Control Bureau.

Rajnath Singh cited narco-terrorism as leading to threats to the national security and sovereignty of states. The involvement of various terrorist groups and syndicates in drug trafficking leads to this issue .

The minister said drugs also destroy the health and fabric of the society and was considered to be the reason for both petty offences and heinous crimes such as smuggling of arms and ammunition and money laundering.

He said drug trafficking and abuse has continued its significant toll on valuable human lives and productive years of many person around the globe.

“With the growth and development of world economy, drug traffickers are also seamlessly trafficking various type of drugs from one corner to other ensuring the availability of the contraband for the vulnerable segment of the society who fall into the trap of drug peddlers and traffickers,” he added.

Rajnath Singh said: “India’s approach towards tackling the menace of drugs is well enshrined in our constitution which, in the Directive Principles, lay down that the state shall make endeavours to bring about the prohibition of substances injurious for health, except for medicinal and scientific purposes.”

Drug trafficking and its connection to other organised crimes is a major challenge for the drug law enforcement agencies. The home ministry, narcotics control bureau, and other drug law enforcement agencies of India are fully capable of dealing with such challenges.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Australians Surrender More Than 50,000 Weapons in First National Gun Amnesty in 20 Years

Anyone found with an unregistered firearm in Australia now faces up to 14 years in prison or a heavy fine

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Salesperson Lauren Ungari checks rifles in a display in a gunshop in Sydney, Australia (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft) (VOA)

Sydney, October 8, 2017 : Australians have handed in 51,000 weapons during the first national gun amnesty in more than 20 years.

Authorities in Australia believe the three-month gun amnesty that ran through Sept. 30 has made the country safer. By their count, 51,461 firearms were surrendered in Australia’s first no-questions-asked amnesty since a mass shooting in the state of Tasmania in 1996.

A proliferation of illicit weapons and the potential impact on national security prompted the government to urge Australians to hand in their firearms without fear of prosecution. Officials were worried that unwanted military-style rifles, pistols and shotguns could fall into the hands of extremists and criminal gangs.

ALSO READ Why are Americans so fond of their ‘Gun’ culture?

It is estimated that there are about 260,000 unregistered weapons in Australia, which has some of the world’s toughest gun control measures. They include a 28-day waiting period, comprehensive background checks, and a requirement to have a “justifiable reason” to own a firearm. There have been no mass shootings in Australia since the legislation was introduced.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the measures are crucial to Australian society.

“Now, it is vitally important that we maintain our gun control laws. They are among the strictest in the world,” he said. “We have seen the shocking tragedy in Las Vegas. The killer there had a collection of semi-automatic weapons, which a person in his position would simply not be able to acquire in Australia. So, we have strict gun control laws … we do not take anything for granted.”

Anyone found with an unregistered firearm in Australia now faces up to 14 years in prison or a heavy fine.

The opposition Labor party has called for the three-month gun amnesty to be extended, and for life sentences to be handed down on criminals who smuggle firearms into Australia. (VOA)

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Percentage of US College Students Using Marijuana at the Highest Level in 30 Years, Claims New Study

The increasing use of marijuana among college students deserves immediate attention from college personnel as well as students and their parents

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Marijuana grower and activist Juan Vaz checks marijuana plants in Montevideo, Uruguay, VOA

Washington, September 12, 2017 : Percentage of US college students using marijuana was at the highest level in 2016 since the past three decades, according to a study conducted by University of Michigan researchers.

The national Monitoring the Future follow-up study, funded by the the National Institute on Drug Abuse, showed in 2016, 39 per cent of full-time college students aged 19-22 indicated that they used marijuana at least once in 12 months, and 22 per cent indicated that they used at least once in 30 days, reports Xinhua news agency.

ALSO READ Substance abuse of Marijuana rises in the United States

Both of these 2016 percentages were the highest since 1987, and represented a steady increase since 2006, when they were 30 and 17 per cent, respectively.

Daily or near daily use of marijuana-defined as having used 20 or more times in the prior 30 days-was at 4.9 per cent in 2016; this is among the highest levels seen in more than 30 years, though it has not shown any further rise in the past two years.

“These continuing increases in marijuana use, particularly heavy use, among the nation’s college students deserve attention from college personnel as well as students and their parents,” John Schulenberg, the current principal investigator of the Monitoring the Future follow-up study, said on Monday.

“We know from our research and that of others that heavy marijuana use is associated with poor academic performance and non-completion of college.

In 2016, 30 per cent of those aged 19-22 perceived regular use of marijuana as carrying great risk of harm, the lowest level reached since 1980.

These findings come from the long term Monitoring the Future study, which has been tracking substance use of all kinds among American college students for the past 37 years. (IANS)

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Indonesia’s War on Drugs Follows Philippines’ Infamous Crusade to Curb Drug Use

Indonesia's Drug War by President Joko Widodo follows Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte way

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An Indonesian policeman checks crystal methamphetamine from China after a raid at Anyer beach in Serang, Banten province, Indonesia
An Indonesian policeman checks crystal methamphetamine from China after a raid at Anyer beach in Serang, Banten province, Indonesia. VOA
  • Idham Azis said he would not think twice to discharge police officers who were indecisive against drug trafficking
  • Human Rights Watch official Phelim Kline criticized the move

Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is once again using the language of “emergency” to ramp up the country’s war on drugs, in a move that seems in step with Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s infamous crusade in a neighboring island country.

Widodo recently ordered police to shoot foreign drug dealers who “resist arrest,” claiming the country was in a “narcotics emergency position.” Then, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights announced a plan to consolidate drug felons in four prisons. On Tuesday, Jakarta police chief Gen. Idham Azis said he would “not think twice” to discharge police officers who were indecisive against drug trafficking.

Widodo’s speech last week came on the heels of a drug-related police shooting in Jakarta, targeting a Taiwanese man who resisted arrest while trying to smuggle one ton of crystal methamphetamine into Indonesia.

Human Rights Watch official Phelim Kline criticized the move, writing in a statement that, “President Joko Widodo should send a clear and public message to the police that efforts to address the complex problems of drugs and criminality require the security forces to respect everyone’s basic rights, not demolish them.”

Meth panic

The target of President Duterte’s drug war is the cheap crystal methamphetamine known locally as shabu, and it is also the subject of Indonesian hand-wringing. The ton seized last month was the largest drug seizure in the nation’s history.

ALSO READ: What is the relation between Religion and Drug use?

The head of Indonesia’s narcotics agency, Gen. Budi Waseso, has been calling for a Philippines-style war on drugs as early as September 2016.

“The market that existed in the Philippines is moving to Indonesia, the impact of President Duterte’s actions is an exodus to Indonesia, including the substance,” Budi told Australia’s ABC News.

Indonesia enforces capital punishment for drug trafficking, which makes it an offense on par with murder and terrorism. It is estimated that about 70 percent of Indonesia’s prison population are low-level drug offenders.

“For me, there is a question mark over President Jokowi’s narcotics policy,” said Erasmus Napitupulu of Jakarta’s Institute for Criminal Justice Reform. “He always talks about the death penalty as a way to protect the nation’s children.” But in fact, he said, “the death penalty targets small drug couriers, which in many cases leads to unfair trials. Indonesian law has not been able to bear the burden of a fair trial,” he said.

Calls for leniency

“Of course we are concerned with the president’s rhetoric … to justify the war on drugs,” said Edo Nasution, national coordinator of the nonprofit Solidarity for Indonesian Drug Victims.

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“Evidence-based drug policy is what we need, not a policy that is only based on moral values or ideology,” said Edo, a one-time drug user who spent 13 years in Indonesian jails. “For example, there has been harm reduction programs in Indonesia for a long time and there is much scientific evidence as to the success of this approach.”

Harm-reduction refers to the practice of managing the risks of drug use, such as providing sterile needles, rather than trying to eradicate drug use.

Southeast Asia has long resisted trends toward leniency for drug users or traffickers, with countries like Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines resolutely maintaining harsh penalties that they say deters a major societal problem. As of last year, Thailand seemed like it might rethink the criminalization of methamphetamine because of overcrowded prisons, but there are no such signs in Indonesia.

Widodo’s last big anti-drug push was in 2015, two months after he was sworn into office when he executed 14 people for drug offenses.

“Far from having a deterrent effect, the number of drug-related crimes in Indonesia increased in the months after the executions were carried out in January and April 2015,” according to Claudia Stoicescu, an Oxford University researcher.

The increased resources devoted to drug-related arrests have drawn money away from rehabilitation centers that some say would better serve Indonesia’s nearly 1 million (according to the National Narcotics Agency) drug addicts. In the absence of such treatment, many poor addicts are turning to dubious herbal and faith-based cures that do nothing at best.

Erasmus wishes Indonesia would learn from the experience of the United States, which has gradually softened its approach to marijuana.

“American narcotics policy that criminally prosecuted drug users failed even without the death penalty. The result? The U.S. gradually changed the direction of policy toward decriminalization [of marijuana],” he said. “If Indonesia retains capital punishment as the main solution for drug issues, then I believe it is a political decision to preserve [politicians’] image, not to protect actual narcotics victims.” (VOA)