Pubdate: Tue, 09 Nov 2004
Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)
Copyright: 2004 Nation Newspapers
Author: Daniel Nyassy, Nairobi


Drug trafficking in Eastern Africa has increased in recent years,
police commissioner Hussein Ali said yesterday.

It was, therefore, urgent for countries in the region to forge a
collective strategy to fight the vice, he said.

He was speaking when he opened a three-day seminar at the Whitesands
Beach Hotel, Mombasa.

Trafficking and consumption of the drugs had added to an upsurge in
crime, especially in Kenya, and posed a security threat in the region,
the police boss said.

"No nation, whether poor or rich, is immune to the devastating
problems caused by drug abuse and trafficking," he told participants
from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Rwanda.

Mr Adadi Rajab (Tanzania), Ms Elizabeth Kuteesa (Uganda), Mr Emmanuel
Bayingana (Rwanda), Mr Tshehayou Kinfu (Ethiopia), Mr Patrick Obimo
(the sub-regional Bureau in Nairobi) and Mr Joseph Kamau (Kenya) were
among the CID and anti-drug unit heads attending the meeting.

Brig Ali called for closer co-operation among the region's law
enforcement agencies, enhanced cross-border investigations, joint
operations and frequent exchange of intelligence as drug trafficking
transcends national boundaries.

The prospects of quick returns from the drugs trade also called for a
highly deterrent law for the region, he said, pointing out that in
Kenya, traffickers received a custodial 10-year sentence without the
option of a fine.

"The youth are major targets of drug traffickers. Almost all those who
consume drugs have become mentally and physically useless.

"Their ability to make a meaningful contribution to their own
well-being is destroyed.

In a nutshell, drug abuse, if left unchecked, has the potential to
wreak as much havoc as Aids to the socio-economic fabric, the police
boss said.

Kenya's police had acquired advanced equipment to detect illicit
drugs, firearms and explosives, he added.
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