Min­istry of Home Af­fairs seeks big­ger bud­get for drug crack­down

The Myanmar Times - - News - SWAN YE HTUT swanye­htut@mm­times.com

THE Min­istry of Home Af­fairs will re­quest a sep­a­rate bud­get al­lo­ca­tion to crack down on use and dis­tri­bu­tion of il­licit nar­cotics, Deputy Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ma­jor Gen­eral Aung Soe said at yes­ter­day’s Amyotha Hlut­taw ses­sion, one week after an MP from Shan State urged the gov­ern­ment to get tough on drugs.

“The Min­istry of Home Af­fairs will re­quest an ex­clu­sive bud­get al­lo­ca­tion so that the Myan­mar Po­lice Force can im­ple­ment the anti-nar­cotics pro­cesses ef­fec­tively,” the deputy min­is­ter said. “We will re­quest a bud­get in line with the pro­ce­dures.”

On July 25, Shan Na­tion­al­i­ties League for Democ­racy law­maker Sai Wan Hlaing Kham (Shan 3) sub­mit­ted a pro­posal call­ing for a law en­force­ment blitz that would take legal ac­tion against nar­cotics traf­fick­ing, elim­i­nate se­cluded ar­eas where il­le­gal sub­stances are fre­quently used in groups, launch a pub­lic aware­ness cam­paign about the dangers of drug use, and open re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tres for drug ad­dicts.

De­bate over the pro­posal be­gan on Au­gust 1 and con­tin­ued yes­ter­day, with 17 law­mak­ers regis­ter­ing to dis­cuss the idea.

“I have learned that the an­tinar­cotics team has been get­ting by with 1075 po­lice of­fi­cers on the An­tiNar­cotics Force,” said MP Daw Myat Thida Tun (NLD; Mon 5). “It is not suf­fi­cient for con­trol­ling the sit­u­a­tion across Myan­mar.”

Mon State has 10 town­ships but only Mawlamyine and Ye town­ships have branches of the Anti-Nar­cotics Force, she said.

“On June 30, I vis­ited the Anti-Nar­cotics Force and met with the concerned of­fi­cials,” she said. “What I have learned is that there is not a large-enough force and they can­not use the puffer ma­chine [a drug de­tec­tion de­vice] and they mainly de­pend on man­power to de­tect il­le­gal drugs at check­points.”

She was told by the Anti-Nar­cotics Force that there is no sep­a­rate al­lo­ca­tion for the fight against drugs and most of the bud­get goes to pro­vid­ing pub­lic aware­ness, with the help of NGOs.

MP U Myo Win (NLD; Mon 8) said there were hun­dreds of par­ents of drug vic­tims and that the rate of crim­i­nal cases – from rob­bery to mur­der – com­mit­ted to get money for drugs is on the rise.

Though the Myan­mar Po­lice Force has formed anti-nar­cotics teams at the town­ship level, the teams have been un­able to im­ple­ment suc­cess­ful drug crack­downs, he said. There were only four anti-drug po­lice of­fi­cers in Ye town­ship, where he lives, but two of them were trans­ferred to Kayin State. The other two of­fi­cers were abus­ing their power to make money, he al­leged.

“It’s no won­der that drug deal­ers know the po­lice force’s ac­tiv­ity in ad­vance,” he said.

U Myo Win said that in some cases, when a child from a wealthy fam­ily buys il­le­gal stim­u­lants, the drug dealer will call the po­lice after sell­ing the prod­uct, with po­lice then ar­rest­ing the buyer on the way back from the deal. When the fam­ily learns that their child is locked up for pur­chas­ing drugs, they come to the po­lice with money, any­where from K1 mil­lion to K7 mil­lion. The po­lice ac­cept the money and let the of­fender go, while drug deal­ers are al­lowed to con­tinue their ac­tiv­i­ties, he said.

“I do de­nounce such de­spi­ca­ble ac­tions,” U Myo Win said.

In Au­gust 2013, the Myan­mar Po­lice Force bol­stered its Anti-Nar­cotics Force, said Maj Gen Aung Soe, the deputy min­is­ter for Home Af­fairs, as­sign­ing nearly 4000 po­lice of­fi­cers.

But that ex­pan­sion was ap­par­ently short-lived, and cur­rently there are fewer than 1100 of­fi­cers on the An­tiNar­cotics Force, he said, with ef­forts to as­sign more per­son­nel on­go­ing.

In 2015, there were 6414 drug cases brought against 9188 sus­pects, he said.

From the first of the year through July 31, 2016, a to­tal of 4677 drug cases were brought against 7031 sus­pects.

A ma­jor­ity of the Amyotha Hlut­taw ap­proved Sai Wan Hlaing Kham’s pro­posal in a se­cret vote. There were 200 votes cast in favour, one ob­jec­tion and four ab­sten­tions out of 250 MPs in at­ten­dance.

– Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

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