Republic’s tough, well-publicised laws a strong deterrent to traffickers

GLOBAL DRUGS PROBLEM

SINGAPORE

THE small number of drug couriers arrested in Singapore showed that they were avoiding the Republic as a transit point, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said yesterday.

Only six people, all foreigners who were on transit to Europe or the United States, were arrested for drug trafficking in the Republic over the last two years, the CNB said in reply to questions from The Straits Times.

“Only the most foolhardy who are willing to gamble with their lives would choose to carry drugs through Singapore,” it said, referring to the tough and well-publicised laws against trafficking.

In the section on Asia in its annual report, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) identified “seaports and airports in Taiwan, Hongkong, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore” as important transit points for heroin trafficking.

The CNB said Singapore’s strategic location rendered it vulnerable to drug trafficking but this did not make it an important transit point for drugs.

“From time to time, as in other major cities in the region, drug couriers are arrested at our airport,” it said.

“But this does not make Singapore an important transit point for drugs going to the West.”

It stressed that very heavy penalties for drug trafficking – the death penalty in particular – served as an effective deterrent.

The death penalty is mandatory for those convicted in trafficking 15g or more of heroin, the main drug used by 90 per cent of local addicts.

Anyone found guilty of importing 500g of cannabis also faces the same punishment. The revised Misuse of Drugs Act includes the death penalty for trafficking in 30g or more of cocaine.

Besides having very strict drug laws, the CNB said that it was also stepping up efforts to steer youth away from drugs.

“We believe that the long-term solution to tackling the drug problem is to continue with our two-pronged strategy of reducing the supply of and demand for drugs,” it said.

At the regional level, it said that Asean countries would continue working together to tackle the problem. There was co-operation in law enforcement, preventive drug education, public information and training at the annual Asean senior officials meeting on drug matters.

“The level of co-operation among Asean members is very good,” it noted.

It said that Singapore had ratified the 1961 single convention on narcotic drugs and the 1971 convention on psychotropic substances.

The Republic had not yet ratified the 1988 United Nations convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, but it had “adhered substantially to it”.

Said the CNB: “Singapore will continue to take a very strong stand against drug trafficking and drug consumption through our tough laws and vigorous enforcement. In this regard, we will continue to work with other countries to combat the drug menace.”

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