12 th -16 th May Country Progress Report

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1 ASEAN INTER-PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY The Tenth Meeting of the AIPA Fact-Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) to Combat the Drug Menace Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam 12 th -16 th May Country Progress Report On Drug Situation in Lao PDR I. Introduction Illicit drugs are a global issue threatening all countries worldwide. It is a scourge that retards socio-economic development, threatens national stability and security. Since Lao PDR is located at the hub of the Mekong River Sub-region, with 5,038 km along border shared with five neighbouring countries, namely China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Because of its location, transnational traffickers have made Lao PDR as a transit point for trafficking illicit drugs from one country to a third country. By 1990 s, Lao PDR was the main producer of illicit opium, in recent years the government of Lao PDR has taken decisive steps to cease opium cultivation nation-wide. Thanks to these efforts and with the support from international development partners in 1

2 partnership with UNODC from 1998 to 2005, opium cultivation was effectively reduced by 94% and in February 2006 the Lao PDR declared its success in significantly reducing opium cultivation. Nevertheless, from 2007 to 2012 found the clandestine cultivation of opium poppy increase, due to the lack of continuous development assistance, alternative livelihoods for farmers and high prices for opium in the region which attracted opium growers. So, Opium poppy production has been increased gradually from 1,500 ha in 2007 to 6,800 ha in The number of opium addicts increased from 7,706 in 2007 to 12,305 people in Transnational trafficking of Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS), Heroin and other illicit drugs has gradually increased, the effect of trans-national drug trafficking resulted in the rise of cases of drug abuse, domestic crime, and other related problems. Some 55,000 people in Laos are at risk of becoming drugs addicts. According to a report from the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision (LNCDC) in 2012, 80% of drug users take amphetamines while 20% use opium, heroin, cannabis and other substances. Even though, Laos is trying to improve its legal system to deal with illicit drugs, it is noted that the country continues to be threatened by drug trafficking and trans-national crime. II. Measures Taken for Drug Control 1. Policy and Legal Framework: The government of Lao PDR has always placed a high priority on the prevention and solution of drugs problems and has stipulated its political will and commitments through evolving policies, strategies and programmes to meet the challenges towards the changing situation. The implementation of National Drug Control policies and strategies under the financial and technical support from UNODC are as follows: The First National Drug Control Programme ( ); The Second National Drug Control Programme ( ); 2

3 The third National Drug Control Programme ( ); and The National Drug Control Master Plan ( ). The implementation of the national Drug Control Master Plan is not only to address the need for the elimination of opium poppy cultivation, but also to assure food security and poverty alleviation among former poppy growers. 2. The Lao government has implemented a number of development projects to help families of various ethnic groups in the northern mountainous regions to give up farming opium poppies and take up alternative livelihoods. 3. To effectively conduct drug menace control, there is an urgent need for the Lao government to focus on drug control programme as well as to enhance the data collection and regular report of drug-related information. 4. The National Assembly of Lao PDR puts a great effort to work closely with concerned authorities to support and monitor the implementation of the National Master Plan. During the fourth ordinary session of the 7 th legislature in 2012, the Drug Law was amended in order to provide a legal framework for controlling drugs and related crime. The law determined clearly specific responsibilities for different government sectors, communities, families, individuals, and the society as large. 5. Lao PDR is a signatory of international convention on drugs as the followings: a Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (ratified in 1973) b convention on Psychotropic substances (ratified in 1977) c convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (ratified in 2004) 3

4 d. The 1972 protocol Amending the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (ratified in 2009). 6. Developing international cooperation and networking: Illegal drugs remain as a serious threat to Lao society and traditions, to solve these problems; the Lao government has taken various measures and actions, and sought international and regional cooperation and networking to combating the drug menace and control. Laos has signed bilateral and multilateral agreements on cooperation against illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemical control with a number of friendly countries namely: China, Cambodia, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam and worked closely with the UNODC, UNAIDS, WHO, UNDP, and other international organizations. At the regional level, the Lao Government adheres to the ACCORD Plan through ASEAN structure. The ACCORD Plan of action meets the global drug control objectives as set forth by the UNGASS. Through the ASEAN, Laos is also party to a certain number of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the ASEAN Plan of Action to combat Transnational Crime which also addresses drug trafficking. Its cooperation with neighbouring countries China, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar is reinforced by the establishment of more Border Liaison Officers (BLO) along the border line and increased patrolling along the Mekong River. This action is proving to be more and more effective results. In addition, in order to share and to learn together with other international partners, Laos participated in a number of international meetings related to combating with the drug menace and control. 4

5 III. Achievements 1. Contribution of the Lao National Assembly The fourth ordinary session of the National Assembly (seventh legislature) conducted in 2012, has amended the Article 146 of the Penal Law and the Article 75 and 76 of the Illegal Drug Law with the aim of posing hasher penalty. The National Assembly made not less efforts in overseeing law enforcement and the implementation of the National Drug Control Master Plan In addition to the raising public awareness of drugs harms and promoting drug-free villages, followed by organization of activities, campaigns and sportive events, it promotes to push the three-building policy implementation, which aims to make province a strategic unit, district of all-aspect strengthened unit, and village to be a development unit. Strong and participatory actions from communities are considered as a decisive factor for illicit drug prevention and control in Lao PDR. 2. The Burning Ceremony of Seized Drugs And Drug Related Arrests Last year, law enforcement officers seized drugs and arrested suspects in more than 1,000 cases. About 2,000 people were arrested, including over 400 women and more than 50 foreigners. The concerned authorities seized kilograms of heroin, 1, kg of methamphetamine tablets, kilograms of opium and 2,266 kilograms of dried cannabis. The seized narcotic drugs were burnt last year (2012) on the occasion of the International Day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking, in the presence of the Prime Minister of Lao PDR, concerned ministers, diplomatic corps, and mass media. The burned drugs included 12,525 kg of unrefined heroin, 470,170 kg of amphetamine type stimulants, 1,535 kg of cannabis and kg of white powder containing chemical precursors. 3. Reduction of Opium Cultivation and Opium Drug Addicts 5

6 Lao PDR successfully eliminated opium poppy cultivation in 2006 and officially declared success for the ability to significantly eliminate illicit poppy cultivation by 94 percent from 27,000 hectares. At the same time, the number of opium addicts was reduced by 80 percent, from 63,000 to 12,000 people. 4. Drug Prevention and Treatment During six-year period of ( ) 29,793 opium addicts were treated and rehabilitated in 11 provinces. The Government has built eight centres for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug abusers with funding from the governments of Thailand, the US, China, Japan and Brunei Darussalam. Somsanga Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre in Vientiane Capital plays an important role in preventing, educating and rehabilitating drugs addicts and providing them with job skills so they can re-enter the society, contributing to socio-economic development of Lao PDR. Furthermore, continuously implementing community projects of drug demand reduction and support service organizations at all levels are strengthened. 5. Annual meeting on Drug Control and Supervision 2012 was held in Vientiane under the honorary chairmanship of the Deputy -Prime Minister,UN representative on drug and crime,and UN Ambassador to LaoPDR participated 6. The 18 th Lao-Thai Joint Committee Meeting held recently in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand where Lao-Thai representatives leaded by two Deputy-Prime Ministers, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, discussed on the intensifying close bilateral cooperation to address the menace of drugs in the region, which is a part of efforts to fulfil the ASEAN Declaration for a Drug-Free ASEAN Community by IV. Lessons Learned and Challenges 1. Lessons Learned 6

7 Strong political will and commitment of the Lao government, Strengthening implementation unit and control measures at all levels, Participation of all stakeholders by involving civil society to develop a counter culture against drugs, Ensuring that policies, strategies and programmes are brought down to the grassroots through projects and related activities, Partnership and collaboration ship with neighbouring countries and, support from international organizations, Community empowerment and laws enforcement. 2. Challenges Remoteness of many border areas, attendant lack of communications, poor road access and the scarcity of resources. Sustaining the elimination of illicit opium poppy cultivation. Trafficking of amphetamine type stimulants (ATS) has become widespread. Laos is located at the hub of the Greater Mekong Sub-region between the drug producers and their highly lucrative markets. The production and trafficking of drugs has become a transnational problem. V. Further Actions in Combating Drug Menace In order to reach the ASEAN Declaration for a Drug-Free ASEAN Community by 2015, some concrete actions to be taken as follows: 1. Sustaining of alternative development in drug demand and supply reduction. 2. Food security and environmental sustainability. 3. Promoting the establishment of the technical working group to support and assist the work of AIFOCOM accordingly. 7

8 4. Strengthening border relations and cooperation in competing with drug menace and control, reinforcing bilateral agreements and international conventions implementation. 5. Reviewing and scientifically evaluating the implementation of the National Drug Control Master Plan ( ). 6. Strengthening legal framework through amendment of new national illicit drugs, law and if needed developing new related to illicit drug law. 7. Promoting national narcotic board to view ASEAN needs to formulate a standard operating procedure of the treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters in the ASEAN region, especially related to drug crime and drug related crime. 8. Raising public awareness of drugs harms and law dissemination for 300,000 people every year. 9. Every year seeking ways for assisting 100 villages that stopped cultivating opium poppy and grows other crops instead. 10. Treatment and rehabilitation of 5,600 drug addicts per year 11. National meeting to combat drugs menace 12. Strengthening parliamentarians responsibilities to perform advocacy, legislative and oversight roles related to drugs matters As the country continues to be threatened by drug trafficking and trans-national crime, a single organization and a single country cannot fight this evil alone. Therefore, it requires strong cooperation and coordination among countries in the region as well as national and regional mechanisms should be strengthened. Thus, technical working group of AIFOCOM as a supporting body to assist AIFOCOM in improving its activities and intensifying concrete efforts to successfully combat with drug menace, in addition, the continuation of international aid and contribution are almost needed in order to 8

9 accelerating all administrative and legislative efforts to make the ASEAN region a drug free zone by

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