17 October 2018

Mauritius: Government Is Stepping Up the Relentless Battle Against Drug Trafficking, Says Prime Minister

press release

Government is devoting all the necessary resources to step up the relentless battle against drug trafficking in a sustainable manner. In the crusade against drug trafficking, there will be no retreat no surrender, come what may.

This reply was given by the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, at the National Assembly yesterday, to the Private Notice Question pertaining to discussions with the drug enforcement agencies, in connection with the "Rampant/Explosive Proliferation of Psychoactive Substances" in Mauritius and Rodrigues, as noted at paragraph 2.16 of the Report of Commission of Inquiry on Drug Trafficking in Mauritius.

The Prime Minister highlighted that the issue of drugs forms part of his daily discussions with the Commissioner of Police and other drug Enforcement Agencies, and emphasis is always laid on additional effective measures that should be enforced to curb down proliferation of drugs and other illicit substances. He stressed that many of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Commission of Inquiry had already been implemented either before the setting up of the Commission or during the period it was conducting its exercise.

He stated that all enforcement agencies including the Anti-Drug and Smuggling Unit, the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA), the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Ministry of Defence and Rodrigues, the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, and the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research, among others, are working relentlessly as a team in the fight against proliferation of illicit drugs in all its forms.

Furthermore, he underscored that the MRA has already acquired several equipment to control proliferation of illicit drugs. The equipment comprise a Fast Interceptor Boat; low bed mobile scanner; vessel tracking system; scanners in port and airport; tools like portable contraband buster, fiberscope and trace detector as well as drones. Sniffer dogs of the MRA have been trained to detect a wider range of drugs including synthetics substances and selected currencies, he added, while adequate and specialised training in drug detection has already been given to all law enforcement officers.

The Prime Minister emphasised that the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research is adopting a zero-tolerance policy in regard to drug issues in schools. In this regard, strict control measures have been introduced at the level of classes and school compounds. The Ministry, he added, is actively engaged, together with partner institutions, in the implementation of activities to address the Drug Demand Reduction and drug use prevention in schools.

With regard to treatment and rehabilitation programmes, the Prime Minister underlined that the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life is implementing the Harm Reduction programme, mainly the Methadone Substitution Therapy; the Needle Exchange programme; and a Suboxone/Naltrexone-based Detoxification programme. The Health Ministry also supports NGOs in the Codeine based programme which targets people with Substance Use Disorder.

Moreover, he underpinned that the Health Ministry has recently embarked on a Rehabilitation programme for young people under 18 with addiction issues at Long Mountain Hospital on a residential basis. This Unit has been set up for the first time and is operational since two weeks, he added.

The Forensic Science Laboratory has on its part already set up several units for specialized service provision, including a Drugs Unit as well as a Research Development Unit, he stated. These units are manned by fully trained scientists to handle drugs.

In addition, Prime Minister Jugnauth pointed out that in a bid to further combat drug trafficking, action has been initiated for the acquisition of a whole body scanner at the airport to detect stuff and swallowed drugs; additional scanners for fast and efficient control of all incoming passengers; drugs loo to facilitate disposal of swallowed drugs; additional Fast Interceptor Boat and rapid hull Interceptor Boats; and other technological tools such as portable contraband buster, fiberscope, Handheld Mini Z Scanners (3 dimensional imaging), Handheld narcotics Analyser and trace detectors, among others.

The Prime Minister concluded by stressing that the drug problem in Mauritius is a national issue which needs to be put above party politics.

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