GIS – 16 September, 2019: The zero-tolerance approach against drug trafficking will be sustained and Government is as determined as ever to step up the relentless fight against this scourge, reiterated the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, today, at the Ravenala Attitude Hotel in Balaclava.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 29th Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies, Africa (HONLAF), organised by the Ministry of Defence and Rodrigues in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and which is being held from 16 to 20 September 2019. He also proceeded with the launch of the National Drug Control Master Plan 2019-2023 in presence of the Minister Mentor, Minister of Defence, Minister for Rodrigues, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Local Government and Outer Islands, Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, and other personalities.
The purpose of the meeting is to facilitate cooperation and coordination in regional activities directed against illicit drug traffic and identify priority issues in the area and formulate recommendations to UNODC. Some 200 participants from 54 UN Member States and representatives of the United Nations System and Non-Governmental Organisations are attending.
In his keynote address, Prime Minister Jugnauth stated that this important meeting provides an appropriate platform for law enforcement agencies to exchange their expertise and share their best practices on drug-related issues. It will facilitate cooperation and coordination in regional activities directed against illicit drug trafficking, he emphasised.
With regard to the negative impact of drug use, drug trade and drug-related crimes, the Prime Minister underlined that it decreases labour productivity, hampers the learning performance of youngsters, causes unemployment and disruption in family life. The use of illicit drugs, he added, leads to early death and an increase in chronic diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis.
The Prime Minister observed that as long as the demands for drug continue to exist, illegal drug production and trade will not cease. Despite stringent measures and significant investments in IT drug tools, he said, the complexity and pervasiveness of drug abuse still remain a problematic regionally and internationally.
As for the drug issue in Mauritius, Mr Jugnauth highlighted that the country with its strategic location in the Indian Ocean region, has been the target of drug trafficking networks. However, he pointed out, law enforcement agencies such as the Anti-Drug Smuggling Unit, the Customs Division of the Mauritius Revenue Authority, the Financial Intelligence Unit and Independent Commission Against Corruption are working closely to combat the drug problem in the country and contributing to sensitise the youth against the consequences and dangers of drugs.
Speaking on Government’s commitment in this fight, the Prime Minister recalled that in September 2015, Government had established a new Commission of Inquiry on Drug Trafficking to query into the extent of the illicit drug consumption, its economic and social consequences and the availability of new types of drugs, including synthetic drugs. The first report was published in 2016 and the second was published last year and the third report is under preparation, he stated.
According to the Prime Minister, regional cooperation with friendly countries has led to the seizure of a significant number of illicit drugs, and referred to some of the cases namely: in 2016 whereby 40 kg of illegal drugs was seized in Reunion Island; and, a record seizure of heroine in cylinders was effected with the prompt intervention of South African and Mozambican authorities in 2017. These, he said, are clear examples of how regional cooperation has been upheld with strong Governmental support. Mauritian and Malagasy authorities are working closely to dismantle the drug networks, he further emphasised.
Mr Jugnauth also expressed his gratitude to the UNODC for its assistance in formulating the National Drug Control Master Plan 2019-2023. It has been developed to foster a safer and healthier Republic of Mauritius with effective policies for drug control for the next five years, he indicated. The Master Plan is based on three critical cross-cutting issues which are capacity building, respect and observance of human rights and gender mainstreaming. It also makes provision for the High-Level Drugs and HIV Council which has as key role to oversee and control on Drugs and HIV plan.
For his part, the UNODC Regional Representative for Eastern Africa, Dr Amado de Andrès, underscored that Mauritius for the past years has demonstrated leadership to comprehensively implement balance responses as regards combating illicit drugs. He spoke of the need for a call of action and invited all Member States to join forces in this combat. Moreover, he placed emphasis on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 16 which advocate for the promotion of healthy lives and justice for everyone.
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