The Cabinet yesterday announced strategies to crack down on drug trafficking and rehabilitate drug users, with a four-year, NT$10 billion (US$331 million) budget to combat drug abuse and trafficking.
Premier Lin Chuan (林全) outlined the strategies, saying they would include a scientific approach to trace drug trafficking; the use of advanced drug testing instruments; the establishment of regional rehabilitation centers and personalized rehabilitation programs; and increased penalties for drug dealers.
A database to collate the known associates of drug users and traffickers is to be created using “big data” to help law enforcement personnel predict and track dealers, Lin said.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Rehabilitation centers are to be established in the nation’s north, center, south and east, he said.
The rehabilitation system, which has focused more on correction than medical care, is to be reformed to ensure that offenders will receive treatment, Lin said.
Regulations will be amended to increase penalties for people convicted of selling drugs to underage people and pregnant women, while the penalty for possession of small amounts of Category 3 and Category 4 narcotics will rise, he said.
Currently, people are convicted of possession of a Category 3 or Category 4 drug if they are found with more than 20g, Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said.
However, the Cabinet will seek to lower that threshold to 5g, with an amendment to be submitted for review in the next legislative session, Chiu said.
Possession of such substances in quantities below the threshold is punishable by a fine, but is not a criminal offense.
Law enforcement personnel are to be equipped with new testing instruments to crack down on drugs that are mixtures of substances.
“We hope to see results [from the strategies] by 2020, with the expectation being that there will be a drop in the number of new drug users and crimes associated with drug abuse,” Lin said.
The NT$10 billion is to be invested in drug prevention programs from this year through 2020.
Currently, the annual budget is NT$1.2 billion.
About 230,000 people, or 1.29 percent of the population, have a history of substance abuse, while 48 percent of the nation’s 27,000 inmates are incarcerated for drug-related crimes, government statistics showed.
Last year, 60,756 people were arrested for illicit drug use, while 11,081 were investigated on suspicion of drug trafficking, statistics showed.
Category 3 narcotics, such as Ketamine, are the most abused substances among students, with 7,962 such cases reported in the past five years, statistics showed.
However, that number is considered to be far less than the number of teenagers with drug abuse issues.
Smuggling accounts for the majority of the illegal drugs in Taiwan.
From May last year to February, 35 percent of prohibited substances discovered by law enforcement were sourced in Hong Kong, while 31 percent were from China, the statistics showed.
The US Department of State yesterday criticized Beijing over its misrepresentation of the US’ “one China” policy in the latest diplomatic salvo between the two countries over a bid by Taiwan to regain its observer status at the World Health Assembly, the decisionmaking body of the WHO. “The PRC [People’s Republic of China] continues to publicly misrepresent U.S. policy,” Department of State spokesman Ned Price wrote on Twitter. “The United States does not subscribe to the PRC’s ‘one China principle’ — we remain committed to our longstanding, bipartisan one China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, Three Joint Communiques, and
FATES LINKED: The US president said that sanctions on Russia over Ukraine must exact a ‘long-term price,’ because otherwise ‘what signal does that send to China?’ US President Joe Biden yesterday vowed that US forces would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese attack in his strongest statement to date on the issue. Beijing is already “flirting with danger,” Biden said following talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, in which the pair agreed to monitor Chinese naval activity and joint Chinese-Russian exercises. Asked if Washington was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan, he replied: “Yes.” “That’s the commitment we made,” Biden said. “We agreed with the ‘one China’ policy, we signed on to it ... but the idea that it can be
SUBTLE? While Biden said the US policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ on Taiwan had not changed, the group targeted China and Russia without naming them Leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the US yesterday warned against attempts to “change the status quo by force,” as concerns grow about whether China could invade Taiwan. The issue of Taiwan loomed over a leadership meeting in Tokyo of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) nations — the US, Japan, Australia and India — who stressed their determination to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region in the face of an increasingly assertive China, although Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the group was not targeting any one country. The four leaders said in a joint statement issued after their talks
Nearly half of Taiwanese believe President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has not done enough to prepare the nation against Chinese aggression, the a poll released yesterday by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation showed. Asked whether the Tsai administration’s military and non-military preparations to defend Taiwan are adequate, 30.6 percent said they were “mostly inadequate” and 18.9 percent said they “very inadequate,” while 25.7 percent said they were “mostly adequate” and 7.1 percent said they were “very adequate.” Another 17.6 percent had no opinion or did not know enough to form a judgement. Still, 51 percent of respondents approved of Tsai’s national defense policy,