UNODC calls Afghan govt to target drug traffickers

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Kabul, Mar 5 (UNI) The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today called on the Afghan government to do more to target the major drug traffickers in Afghanistan, claiming the links of drug traffickers with senior officials in the country were well known.

The UNODC office emphasised the concerns about corruption in the government, which were allowing the ''trafficking and manufacturing of drugs'' to continue inside Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has already become the largest producer of poppy accounting for 92 per cent of the production worldwide, it added.

Addressing a press conference here the UNODC Country chief, Christina Oguz said corruption was the major obstacle in solving the problem of drugs in the country.

The trafficking of opium and heroin was well-organised and supported by powerful individuals within the country, who were linked to international criminal networks.

Ms Oguz was speaking on the occasion of release of the annual report by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which pointed out to the presence of a large amount of chemical precursors in Afghanistan.

The INCB report has called on the Afghan government to address the problem while stating that it was pursuing consultations with the government under article 14 of the 1961 Convention on Narcotics Drugs, which was invoked only in the exceptional cases of severe and persistent treaty violations.

Under Article 14, the INCB could recommend an embargo against a country to the Economic and Social Council if the government fails to take action, the report added.

While acknowledging that the Afghan counter narcotics officials had started taking action, Ms Oguz lamented the fact that most of the efforts were directed at small traders while high level executive were untouched.

She referred to the 'telephone justice' currently in operation, whereby big dealers were released after being apprehended, following calls from senior level functionaries.

Ms Oguz said the lack of political will was also accompanied by lack of capacity and the UNODC office was keen to help with building capacity and providing training and support for legislation as well as intelligence gathering and other efforts in implementation.

The UNODC Country chief argued that it was for the Afghan government to take action but avoided a question on why the international forces present in Afghanistan failed to take action despite the well established linkages between drugs trade and terrorism.

She did however emphasise that it was not possible to approach the problem by prioritising terrorism first and ignoring the problems of drugs till later as both had to be countered together.

UNI XC RJ KN1912

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