Mon, Jun 27, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Police must do more to stop drug scourge, justice minister says

CNA , Taipei

Minister of Justice Shih Mao-lin, left, and vice Minister of Justice Hsieh Wen-ding, right, call for a ``drug-free homeland'' during a press conference organized by the Taipei Prosecutor's Office in Ximending to mark International Anti-Drug Day yesterday.

PHOTO: CHEN TSE-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Minister of Justice Shih Mao-lin (施茂林) said yesterday police officers should do more to crack down on drug trafficking and use because such offenses have been closely associated with other criminal activities.

Shih made the remarks while attending a "drug-free homeland" activity organized by the Taipei Prosecutor's Office to mark the June 26 International Anti-Drug Day.

In 2003 and last year, Shih said, more than 8,400kg of contraband drugs were seized around the country. Worse still, he said, 30-plus amphetamine producing facilities were discovered during the same period, indicating that amphetamine production has gradually moved back to Taiwan from China.

"Official tallies also show that the number of repeat drug abusers and traffickers has been steadily rising," Shih said, adding that law enforcement agencies should strengthen cooperation in cracking down on drug-related crimes.

In addition, Shih said he is hopeful that community volunteers, school teachers and administrators as well as media outlets can launch a joint publicity campaign to help the public understand the dangers drugs pose to human health, social order and even national security.

Since many Taiwanese drug traffickers are believed to be hiding in China, Shih urged Beijing to intensify investigations into its domestic drug trade and cooperate with Taiwan to thwart drug trafficking across the Taiwan Strait.

"China should set aside its political ideology and cooperate with Taiwan to stamp out drug-related crime for the sake of protecting public health and social order," he said.

Shih's appeal for a redoubled crackdown on drug crime came two days after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said drug abuse is not just a personal moral issue but has become an issue crucial to public order, social stability, public health and national security.

During his meeting with individual volunteers and social groups that have made outstanding contributions to the anti-drug campaign over the past year, Chen said many crimes are related to drugs.

"With drug use on the increase, new ecstasy shipment arriving and the number of repeat drug abusers and traffickers rising steadily, drug-related crime has become rampant," Chen said, adding that drug abuse has also become a major cause behind the rise in the number of people affected with HIV in Taiwan.

Against this backdrop, Chen said he hopes individual volunteers and interest groups will continue their efforts in assisting the government in eradicating drug trafficking and abuse.

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