The Irrawaddy

Govt Incentivizes Public to Inform on Drug Dealers

NAYPYITAW — The President’s Office has created an anti-drug department, encouraging public participation in the fight against drug production and dealing.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in the administrative capital Naypyitaw on Tuesday, President U Win Myint announced the establishment of the Drug Abuse Reporting Department.

“We have formed a department to which reports can be made about drug producers and dealers,” said the president.

“We need to educate people that all individuals have to share the responsibility in countering the drug menace as a national task,” he added.

According to the President’s Office, the department was formed on June 22 so that the public may provide information related to the abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, without fear of repercussion or threat to personal safety.

The government will give cash awards to those who file reports to the department about drug dealers, said the president.

“We will give decent cash awards to informers and their confidentiality will be maintained for their safety. We’ll also not levy tax on their cash awards,” he added.

“Generally speaking, it is a good initiative. But drug dealers work in gangs, usually have arms and are financially strong. So, it is a good initiative only when the government can guarantee the safety of informants,” said political analyst and writer Than Soe Naing.

There are cases in which arrested dealers gave money to witnesses to testify in their favor at court, said Sai Wan Hline Kham, a Shan ethnic lawmaker in the Upper House of Parliament.

“[Witnesses in drug cases] have been fatally shot across northern Shan State. So I doubt the public will dare to inform,” he said.

The President’s Office offered telephone and fax numbers and an email address on its Facebook page on Wednesday for the public to file reports.

Meanwhile, the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control under the Home Affairs Ministry has also formed anti-narcotics special forces to speed up its anti-drug campaigns, said minister Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe.

The anti-narcotics special forces are tasked with investigating and punishing anyone involved in the drug supply chain, said the minister, who is also the chairman of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control.

In a meeting with Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe earlier this month, President U Win Myint urged the formation of anti-drug committees at the township, district, regional and state levels comprised of regional authorities, civil society and civilians.

In February, the Myanmar government and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) launched a new national drug control policy, which aims to contribute to safe, secure and healthy communities through a policy that addresses all aspects of the drug problem.

From April 1 to June 19, police handled 2,241 drug cases and arrested 3,175 individuals. The value of seized drugs totaled US$187.6 million, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.