ASEAN leaders commit to ‘drug-free communities’

BY NORMAN D. CORDON

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Special Correspondent for 2017 ASEAN Summit

MANILA – Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a “drug-free community” as they welcomed the progress in carrying out the Work Plan on Securing Communities Against Illicit Drugs 2016-2025.

In a draft Chairman’s Statement set for release after the 31st ASEAN Summit, the leaders said they recognize the effect of the illegal drug problem not only in some ASEAN member-states but also in other countries outside the region.

The work plan calls for a successful and effective approach to address illicit drug activities and mitigate its negative consequences to society through significant and sustainable reduction in illicit crop cultivation, illicit manufacture, and trafficking of drugs and drug-related crimes, and the prevalence of illicit drug use.

The ASEAN also welcomed the assistance of dialogue partners and other external parties “through capacity-building, intelligence information sharing, and other forms of cooperation consistent with relevant international laws, and all the while preserving the sovereign right of countries in deciding the most appropriate approaches to address their national drug situations.”

At the opening session of the Summit, President Rodrigo Duterte said the illegal drug issue was high on the ASEAN agenda. “The menace of illegal drug trade continues to endanger the very fabric of our societies,” he said.

ASEAN leaders also welcomed the adoption of the Cooperation Plan to Tackle Illicit Drug Production and Trafficking in the Golden Triangle 2017-2019.

The Golden Triangle refers to the border regions between Thailand, Burma and Laos infamous for illegal drug trade and production.

When he assumed office last year, Duterte launched a controversial antidrug campaign that earned strong criticism from human rights groups and the international community when it led to the death of thousands of suspected users and dealers./PN