Pubdate: Fri, 26 Sep 2003
Source: Business Times (Tanzania)
Copyright: 2003 Business Times Limited
Author: Twanga Mohamed


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

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

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.