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Govt says it is drafting new drug control policy

FIle photo of police and villagers using sticks and grass cutters to destroy a poppy field above the village of Tar-Pu, in the mountains of Shan State in January 2012. (PHOTO: Reuters)

A new national drug control policy is being drafted and will be implemented by the end of this year, according to Burma’s Ministry of Home Affairs.

“It is time for a comprehensive drug control policy,” said Maj-Gen Aung Soe, the deputy minister for home affairs, speaking yesterday at a forum in Naypyidaw. “Drug addiction is rampant in both urban and rural areas. In some places, users are unaware of the adverse effects of drugs. And drug-related crime is common among youths.”

He added: “Drug issues cannot be tackled by law enforcement agencies alone; it is vital that we have the cooperation of all relevant bodies.”

Speaking at the same conference, Lt Zaw Lin Htun, the head of the Planning Department at the Ministry of Home Affairs, said that, “The government will implement a two-year action plan to carry out drug eradication across the country.”

He continued: “A long-term plan for drug eradication is currently being drafted, and this new National Drug Control Policy is part of that plan.

“The new drug control policy will be in place by the end of 2017.”

Last year, military officials and lawmakers voiced disappointment over the country’s lacklustre efforts to combat illegal drugs, urging it to step up the battle on the narcotics trade.

For decades, Burma has been a major producer of opium and its refined form, heroin, and is now also a major source of methamphetamine pills found across Southeast Asia and beyond.