‘Ice’ fight: Urgent need to change, enforce Fiji laws

Methamphetamine in powdered form. Picture: Curtis Wildfong

THERE is an urgent need to change and enforce Fiji laws to effectively address any alarming increase in the trafficking and production of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine or “ice”.

Fiji Pharmaceutical Society president Reshnika Sen said current laws were inadequate and should be strengthened in line with those in Australia and New Zealand.

“At present laws do exist but it is insufficient and enforcement from government pharmacy is minimal. A lot of training needs to be provided for regulators and inspectors in government pharmacy and Customs to enforce laws on a better scale. We need more policies and political will in this,” Ms Sen said.

On Monday, Commissioner of Police Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho expressed concern over the use of methamphetamine by teenagers when opening a United States Drug Enforcement Administration-sponsored workshop on Clandestine Labs in Suva.

He said although only three clandestine labs had been discovered in Fiji, police needed to be smarter and more alert.

The Regional Representative of United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) Southeast Asia and the Pacific Jeremy Douglas said Fiji’s geographical location and increased connectivity to East Asia, the largest methamphetamine market in the world, made the country vulnerable to an increased meth production and trafficking in the future.

He agreed stakeholders needed to work together to find ways of tackling the problem.

“All government authorities relevant to drugs, including law enforcement, public health, and regulatory authorities, need to work together and share their understanding and observations on the meth market,” he said.

Brig-Gen Qiliho said while it would be the duty of the Office of the Solicitor-General to look at drafting any legislation dealing with synthetic drugs such as meth, the Fiji Police Force would work with the S-G’s office in providing all necessary support.

Kevin Merkel, US Drug and Enforcement Administration Country Attache in Canberra, Australia said the US had a “shared interest in combatting the very serious problem” and the DEA was committed to assisting Fiji in their fight against methamphetamine and any other drug crisis that may arise in the future.

*QUELLING THE ‘ICE’ STORM – in tomorrow’s The Sunday Times PAGE 7

 

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