Pubdate: Fri, 26 Sep 2003 Source: Business Times (Tanzania) Copyright: 2003 Business Times Limited Contact: http://www.bcstimes.com/btimes/index.shtml Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/3116 Author: Twanga Mohamed AFRICA LAUNCHES ONLINE DRUG COMBAT IN waging the war against illicit drugs Africa plans to start web-sites to expose dealers and traffickers, says a recent report of the African Union(AU). These would also show the tactics used to conduct the drugs trade in a continent that already has a fair share of problems, abject poverty among them. The web-site contents will include such vital information as cannabis plantations for easy spotting and destruction. Surfers will get access to the latest publications and other news material that leads to either arresting or helping with investigations against drug pushers, money launderers and couriers. The AU report titled 'Mechanism for follow-up and reporting on the implementation of the revised plan of action on drug control in Africa (2000-2006)' says information dissemination and networking is crucial to effect the continental plan. With such problems as human displacement, refugees and street children, "the drug challenge has further complicated the situation," the report says. Revenue collected from the illicit drug trade being used to fund or Dised crime and "'increasing sophistication of organized African criminal syndicates with international ramifications." It also suspects that money laundering is borne out of the illicit drugs trade and is being used to fund terror organizations that operate in the continent or as their hideouts. The use of performance enhancing drugs and substances is widespread and threatens the entire African sporting community. Winning in sports has become a passionate obsession with disastrous consequences. This results in a vicious cycle that has let many athletes into taking various substances repeatedly to realise that dream, the report says. To sensitize on the dangers posed by the illicit drugs menace AU member states have been asked to attach the drug control component in labour issues and education curriculum. The component should also be co-opted in health sectorial provisions, economic planning and micro-financing programmes to avert money "being given to the wrongful hands." Another area that needs illicit drugs sensitization and awareness is the agricultural sector in order to curb cultivation of narcotics. The report suggests methods to promote crop substitution in notorious areas, for example, cannabis farming. To standardize penalties and punishments for offenders, legislation's on drug control, organised crime and money laundering would be harmonised in the continent, it notes. It notes that in order to effect the use of different sentencing options for different drug offences and offenders, judges, magistrates and prosecutors would be retained effective December next year. In addition dedicated drug courts are to be established. To improve performance of specialised units against illicit drug trafficking, organised crime, money laundering, corruption and human trafficking, proper and continuing training would be carried out. It would involve drug law enforcement officials, customs, and immigration personnel, central bank and commercial banks staff. To help drug users and addicts lead a normal life, detoxification centres will be established for counseling and rehabilitation of the effected segment of the African society. Laws governing importation, marketing and prescription of pharmaceutical drugs would be reformed to limit the diversion of illicit drugs to illicit markets. To control movements through the so-called drug conduits, such as inland waters and sea channels in-between African states, a call for enhancing cooperation between authorities in the available entry and exit points, ports and border posts have been echoed. The AU plan of action on drug control will be reviewed next year to assess its mid-term achievements.