Pubdate: Fri, 26 Sep 2003
Source: Business Times (Tanzania)
Address: Adamjee Building, Bibi Titi Rd, P.O Box 71439, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Copyright: 2004 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 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.