Laos: Govt partners in global war on drugs at airports

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The government is working closely with international organisations to bolster the fight against illicit drugs at airports, through an interdiction task force.

The issue is being discussed at the 9th Asean Airport Interdiction Task Force meeting taking place in Vientiane from November 27-29.

The opening ceremony was attended by the Deputy Secretary General of the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision, Mr Phoutsavath Sounthala, and delegations from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.

Participants are reviewing the implementation of the Asean Work Plan on Securing Communities against Illicit Drugs (2016-2025), especially on the work done by the Asean Airport Interdiction Taskforce.

This body serves as a platform for Asean Member States to share information between the respective enforcement agencies responsible for intercepting drug trafficking into the region through international airports and the impetus in collaborating, initiating, coordinating interdiction of drug trafficking in Asean through international check points, as well as for enhanced cooperation among Asean practitioners for the purpose of intercepting drug trafficking into and transiting the Asean region.

Mr Phoutsavath said Asean has made tremendous progress in its integration and development process since the Asean Community was established in 2015, through the Asean Community Vision 2025, which includes the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity.

The enhancement of intra-Asean trade, as well as between Asean and its external partners, has been conducted in the forms of open border and seamless transport to facilitate a faster and efficient flow of goods.

Connectivity has helped reduce barriers and formed closer links within the region and the world. But, as integration reaches a certain threshold, this region has become exposed to various challenges, including the cross-border flow of illicit drugs.

Drugs and related problems have put pressure on the governments of many countries and it is a global issue which affects the socio-economic development of all nations. No single country is able to address these problems alone and a joint collaborative effort is required to address these serious threats.

“The government of the Lao PDR has prioritised efforts to address drug-related issues. We attach great importance to regional and international cooperation in order to combat illicit drug trafficking, helping the Asean region to become a drug free zone,” Mr Phoutsavath said.

Laos is implementing the Asean Work Plan on Securing Communities against Illicit Drugs (2016-2025) in parallel with the National Drug Control Master Plan (2016-2020). Effective international coordination can be achieved by regularly sharing information, providing education and information on the law and the adverse consequences of drug abuse, and publicising the availability of treatment and counselling for drug addicts.

Law enforcement authorities in Asean Member States should increase their efforts and work closely together so that every drug-related issue is systematically tackled and reduced. 

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