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Afghanistan Must Do More To Rein In Drug Trade

Afghanistan must do more to rein in 'unprecedented' drug trade - UN agency

5 March 2008 - The United Nations anti-drugs agency today called on the Afghan Government to do more to dismantle major trafficking and criminal networks in the strife-torn nation which remains the world's largest producer of opium and heroin.

"The networks are very powerful because the drug traders are linked to corrupt officials and to criminal networks outside Afghanistan," Christina Gynna Oguz, the Representative of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul today.

Echoing the just-released report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), she noted that Afghanistan remains the world's largest producer of opium and heroin.

"The Government must therefore widen its efforts to include the fight against drug traders, who profit the most from the illicit opium industry and who collectively earn more than $3 billion."

She called on the Afghan Government to do more to ensure that the drug laws are applied to all who are involved - directly or indirectly - in the industry.

"Everybody who is involved in the drugs industry and in corruption must be investigated, prosecuted and - if found guilty - punished to the full extent of the law," she added. "Without this happening the drugs problem will not be solved and criminality, corruption and insecurity will prevail in the country."

UNODC is assisting the Government in several ways to tackle the drug problem, including by training intelligence officers within the Afghan Police and providing legislative assistance on issues such as extradition.

The agency is also working with the authorities on the implementation of the Government's anti-corruption strategy and the establishment of an independent anti-corruption body.

Ms. Oguz stressed the vital need to address the threat posed to Afghan society by the drug industry. "It is so important because the drug business stands in the way of the Afghan in the village or the Afghan in the street from getting what he or she wants more than anything else in life, and that is security."

ENDS

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