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Sunday, 1 July 2012

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Illicit drugs, no threat to Sri Lanka - Dr. Kohona

Sri Lanka's experience in dealing with drug trafficking was also linked to its fight against terrorism, Sri Lanka's Permanent representative to the UN Dr. Palitha Kohona told a recent UN General Assembly's thematic debate at the UN headquarters.

He said as cited by the World Drug Report 2012, drug Trafficking was one of the main sources of finance for the LTTE terrorists, an organisation which also engages in international human trafficking as a means to raise funds.

The thematic debate on "Drugs and Crime as a Threat to Development" was organised to discuss 'challenges in mainstreaming drug control into development initiatives, and ways of improving the international community's coordinated efforts to address illicit drugs adverse impact on development'.

He said the impact of illicit drugs is multifaceted and is a massive strain on the social and economic pillars of sustainable development. But, intimidated by drug lords and encouraged by the demand, the farmers will continue to rely on this income in the absence of other alternative source of living.

The drug addiction impacts on national and personal expenditure, health services, access to education and consumption of food and nutrition. A workforce impacted by drugs threatens the optimum use of labour capacity in an economy.

However Dr. Kohona said, "When compared with other Asian countries, illicit drugs have not become a severe threat to Sri Lanka's society or the economy," adding people have been reluctant to engage in large-scale drug related activities largely as a result of cultural and religious background of the country.

A strong law enforcement mechanism and a strong legal culture has also ensured preventive and punitive measures including monitoring of attempts at local production, imports, exports and distribution.

He said consumption of drugs in the country is very low but tourism, which is booming at present may change this trend and the possibility of regional drug distribution using Sri Lanka as a transit point was also a bigger concern.

"Sri Lanka's national program is guided by the National Policy for Prevention and Control of Drug Use. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has also played a crucial role in building Sri Lanka's capacities in the fields of legal drafting and training of law enforcement officers," he said.

 

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