Sun, Jun 18, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Justice ministry's campaign against drugs goes online

CRACKDOWN The justice ministry has set up a Web site to enhance its drive against drug abuse, listing signs of addiction and offering help and support

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has set up an official Web site dedicated to its campaign against drug abuse.

In a statement on the Web site, Minister of Justice Morley Shih (施茂林) said that as the country's drug problem has worsened in recent years, cracking down on drug abuse has become a priority for the ministry.

Drug abuse often leads to other criminal conduct and activities, as addicts look for cash to sustain their habit, Shih said.

According to statistics provided by the ministry, the volume of drugs seized by the government in its crackdown has been increasing in recent years.

In 2001 law enforcement officials seized more than 2 million units of various forms of drugs. This figure rose to more than 8 million units in 2003 and further to 13 million units last year.

Meanwhile, the number of people indicted for trading, trafficking, possession and using drugs has also risen in recent years. From January to November last year, 27,152 people were indicted under the Violation of the Narcotics Endangerment Prevention Act (毒品危害防治條例), up sharply from 14,974 in 2003.

Aside from offering information on issues such as signs and symptoms of drug abuse, the Web site offers stories of people who successfully overcame a drug habit.

The ministry is currently working on amending a law that would enable authorities to detain users of minor drugs and force them to undergo treatment.

The proposed amendment should help young people that have become hooked on minor drugs such as ketamine, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy) or flunitrazepam, which are frequently found in pubs or KTVs, according to the ministry. A stricter law could also act as a deterrent for potential drug users.

Under the current law, while selling or transporting third-class, or minor, drugs is a criminal offense, those caught using these drugs do not face criminal charges.

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