x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

War on drugs: UAE raises the stakes for traffickers and dealers

Any items, including property, found to have been bought with money from the sale or movement of illegal substances will be confiscated by the Ministry of Interior.

The UAE has had great success in detecting and blocking attempts by gangs and individuals to smuggle drugs across its borders. Here, Dubai Police seized 222kg of hashish and 20,000 Tramadol pills. Wam
The UAE has had great success in detecting and blocking attempts by gangs and individuals to smuggle drugs across its borders. Here, Dubai Police seized 222kg of hashish and 20,000 Tramadol pills. Wam

Drug traffickers and dealers convicted in the UAE will have their money and possessions seized under tough new measures announced as part of the country’s war on drugs.

Any items, including property, found to have been bought with money from the sale or movement of illegal substances will be confiscated by the Ministry of Interior.

Federal Laws are essential to bring drug traffickers and dealers down, particularly anti-money laundering and cyber-crime laws, Col Saeed Abdullah Al Suwaidi, director general of the Federal Drug Control Administration told Al Ittihad, the Arabic language sister paper of The National.

The UAE has had great success in detecting and blocking attempts by gangs and individuals to smuggle drugs across its borders or to transit them through its airports or sea ports.

“This stems from the activation of the counter-narcotics strategy, aiming to reduce drug supply [opportunities] represented by various security efforts made in different fields in view of impeding drug access to the UAE,” said Col Al Suwaidi.

Because of its geographical position, the United Nations named the UAE on a list of countries that are highly exposed to the risks of illegal drug trafficking.

However, Dr Hatem Fouad Ali, head of the UN regional office on drugs and crime, has praised the efforts of the UAE’s leadership in the war on drugs, both locally and internationally, and its awareness of the challenges ahead in terms of drug traffic and smuggling through its territories to other countries.

“The UAE is keen on developing its technical anti-narcotic capabilities. The requests from the UAE at times surpass the UN’s capacities. This prompted us to develop a long-term programme to adequately respond.”

Dr Ali added this proves the UAE’s commitment to developing its drug-combating systems. The UN is working with the Ministry of Interior to form a team of anti-narcotic officers who will be accredited as UN experts within eight months.

Col Al Suwaidi insisted the UAE will never be a safe transit port for drugs, despite attempts made by criminals.

“The vigilance and readiness of relevant agencies to counter drugs deters most traffickers and smugglers, due to the successful foiling of large quantities of creatively concealed narcotics. The UAE’s response to drug trafficking is the first line of defence.”

As well as taking a tough stance on dealers and traffickers, assistance is made available to help users kick their habits.

“The Ministry of Interior is working on an initiative aiming to modernise and enhance its strategy for 2014-2016, turning it into a containment policy for drug addicts, guiding them towards annihilating their addiction through innovative services,” said Col Al Suwaidi.

The strategy aims to reduce demand for drugs and at the same time raise awareness about the serious damage they cause to all aspects of a person’s life, including social, economic as well as their health and security. Drugs also contribute to the break up of families and make the user more vulnerable to contracting serious diseases.

Dr Ali praised the government’s strategy of helping to reintegrate addicts back into the community.

“The services provided for addicts in the country are among the best in the advanced world and follow the best international standards,” said Dr Ali, adding legislation pertaining to mitigating the punishment of addicts, especially first-time offenders who are being transferred to treatment and rehabilitation centres, helps in solving the problem at the root.

“Exempting addicts who hand themselves in to receive treatment or who are reported by relatives is a decision in the right direction since it helps in solving addiction problems at the start before they are left to fester.”

Dr Ali noted the UN’s pleasure at working in such close partnership with the UAE in combating drugs and praised the volume of government support offered to the national rehabilitation centre.