On 26th June 2019, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) joins the international community in commemorating the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The day was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly in 1987 as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Global observance of the day aims to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs present to society.
This year the day is being commemorated under the theme; Health for Justice. Justice for Health. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the theme, recognizes that while justice and health seem very different, they are closely related when dealing with drug abuse and illicit trafficking. In other words, effective response to the world drug problem requires inclusive and accountable institutions of criminal justice, health and social services to work together to provide integrated solutions to the challenge.
SADC recognizes that, like the rest of Africa, drug and substance abuse and trafficking is a cause for great concern, because of the many challenges it presents to society, such as family disintegration and slowed economic growth, and is particularly concerned with the proliferation of drugs in schools, colleges and universities, which is affecting young people on whose shoulders the future of the region lies. It is also sad to note that the SADC region is considered to be a favourable conduit for trafficking by drug dealers.
Nonetheless, as we commemorate the day, we note with satisfaction, the steady progress that SADC continues to make in curbing drug vending and illicit trafficking in the region. We applaud the SADC chiefs of police and the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) for the tireless efforts in the fight against drug trafficking and for cooperating with other Regions and International Organizations to prevent and combat transnational and cross-border crimes. As a result of these joint operations and efforts, large quantities of drugs were seized in the region, followed by arrests of drug traffickers.
On this day, we reiterate the call on all stakeholders in the criminal justice, health and social services sectors to continue to work together to raise awareness about the major problems that arise from drug abuse and illicit trafficking. This multidisciplinary and integrated approach is required to sustainably address the challenges related to drug production, trafficking and use.
May I call upon SADC Member States working jointly with the international community to redouble efforts to combat this heinous crime. This year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking should remind us of the urgent need for collaborative efforts to strengthen information sharing systems, enhance bilateral and joint operations and enforcement of laws to counter drug abuse and trafficking. The future and our aspirations may be in jeopardy if we allow drug abuse and illicit trafficking to thrive in the region.