Statements At The 44th Session Of The Commission On Narcotic Drugs
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR T.P. SREENIVASAN AT THE 44th SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON NARCOTIC DRUGS VIENNA ON 22nd MARCH, 2001
My delegation had already spoken briefly at the intersessional meeting of the Commission on the Biennial Report. That statement was on the basis of a local analysis of the Report. Now that we have a multi-disciplinary delegation from India in Vienna, we are in a position to speak with the wisdom of the Headquarters.
The drug menace is among the gravest problems that confront the world today. It has claimed millions of lives and destroyed millions of others. We, in India, have been unfortunate victims of narco-terrorism which has been exported to us from across the border. It is imperative that the Governments around the world should cooperate with each other and act together in confronting and eliminating the scourge of drugs. The historic Special Session of the UN General Assembly in 1998 set out a road map for achieving a drug free world. India is fully committed to the decisions of the Special Session.
2 We have complied with the requirements of all the three International Conventions on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances. In fact, India has gone further than what was strictly required in terms of the conventions. We have a very strong Drug Law in place and we are further strengthening it. The law which has been amended to add more teeth to it against money laundering of drug proceeds shall enter into force in a few weeks. In the area of control of precursor chemicals, we have created special custom check posts within 100 Kms of the Indo-Myanmar border and within 50 Kms of the Indo-Pak border. This has resulted in several seizures and has greatly reduced the movement of precursor chemicals to dubious destinations. However, we would like to share some of our major concerns with the Commission.
(a) There have been claims not only in the press but also in two Biennial Report to the effect that illicit poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been eliminated. These statements should be treated with caution because our experience is that even now there is trafficking of drugs from across the border into India. Moreover, terrorist groups active in the region depend on narcotics for their very existence. The havoc created by narco-terrorism is a constant threat to peace and security in our border states. We would like to mention here that out of the seizure of nearly 14 tons equivalent of opium in India, nearly 6 tons of opium equivalent was of Afghan origin as evidenced by specific markings on the seized drugs.
(b) There have been major programmes of UNDCP in South West Asia. The awareness and enforcement have both gone up in this region. While this is a welcome development, this may result in the revival of old trafficking route through India. This must be recognised and due attention should be paid to it. However, it is felt that the presence of the UN Drug Programme in India is on the decline.
(c) INCB has been taking several initiatives to ensure that the balance between demand and supply for medical and scientific needs is maintained. However, this delicate balance could be upset if demand is sought to be made through the export of seized opium by those countries who are not licit producers of the same. It is necessary for the importing countries to make a commitment not to source their requirement from illicit sources.
Another aspect of the balance between demand and supply is the failure of some countries to meet their commitment for lifting of opium from India. The cultivation of poppy in India is strictly controlled and depends on the world requirements for medical and scientific needs as projected by the INCB. If the quantity of opium as assured is not lifted, the stocks pile up and there is always a danger of leakage. It is, therefore, necessary for the importing countries to meet their commitments.
(d) India has been enforcing strict controls on the production, transport, stocks etc of the precursor chemicals. This has indeed resulted in the reduced availability of precursor chemicals for illegitimate purposes. However, if there is timely sharing of information of seizure of precursor chemicals elsewhere in the world, it would facilitate effective action against illicit trafficking. In Turkmenistan, 83 tons of Acetic Unhydride was seized last year out of which 3.5 tons were believed to have come from India. However, no report of this seizure was made till early this month. Timely information could have ensured immediate follow up action in the country from where this Chemical had been diverted ( China, India and South Korea).
Similarly, a survey of the Indo-Myanmar region was completed, as far as we know, in May, 2000. The findings of this survey are yet to be circulated. It is, therefore, urged that the intelligence sharing machinery should be strengthened to ensure coordinated action.
3. My delegation would like to express appreciation for the efforts of the Executive Director, Prof Pino Arlacchi and the Secretariat for bringing out the Biennial Report.
(i) The main objectives of the First Biennial Report are,
-Assessment of progress made by the states in the implementation of the recommendations of 20th Special Session of UNGA, 1998.
-Identification of problems faced by the States in the implementation.
-Providing basis for the Commission to set out a plan of action for the future.
While the report is fairly comprehensive, it is not adequately focussed and is not specific in respect of these objectives. The format of the report has, perhaps, contributed to this situation. The questionnaire which formed the basis of this report seeks information at many places on the developments since the last report. As this is the first report, instead of developments, the current status should have been requested from such questions in the questionnaire. This would have made it a self contained document.
There are certain columns in the questionnaire which requires a question to be answered with Yes/No. The elaboration of this answer, either Yes or No, should have been sought so that the exact situation in each country would have been clearly brought out. We on our part have given such elaboration wherever it was felt necessary by us.
The report has rightly brought out in para 10 of Chapter III " Overview of Global Trends", that effective law enforcement often forces traffickers to constantly shift from regions. In this context, India would like to point out that the seizure of opiates in India have risen from 6.5 tons of opium equivalent in 1998 to 8.6 tons in 1999 and 14.5 tons in 2000. A very high percentage of this seizure relates to opiates from South West Asia. We feel that as law enforcement pressure on the Balkan route increases, India would be increasingly targetted by the traffickers. This possibility should be taken into account while devising enforcement strategy for the region.
Though India had not faced particular problem with ATS (Ampheatamine Type Stimulants) in the past, there is growing proof that ATS is making its presence in India as evidenced by recent seizures in North East India. We are glad to note that the report has highlighted the Indian performance in certain particular areas like control of precursors wherein it has been mentioned that India had already introduced appropriate mechanisms, certain substances having been declared as controlled substances with mandatory control of their manufacture distribution and transport. India has been monitoring exports of all pharmaceutical products containing ephedrine or pseudo ephedrine.
Mr Chairman, the efforts of the international community to combat the drug menace is an integral part of our quest for international peace and security. Today, threats to peace arise as much from terrorism as from armed conflicts. The creeping menace of drugs is less spectacular, but equally deadly. Narcotics provide the lifeline to terrorists in different parts of the globe. As a victim of narco-terrorism, India is anxious to forge an international partnership that will root out the drug menace. We hope that the current session of the Narcotics Commission will move us towards that objective.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.