Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has expressed concern over the growing global nexus between terrorism and the flow of illicit money from drug trafficking and cross-border crimes, while assuring India’s total support in fighting these evils.
He also informed the world at large that a South Asia Regional Intelligence and Coordination Centre with India’s neighbouring countries as co-founders will come up soon to combat drug-related crimes in the region.
“The growing nexus of drug trafficking and terrorist networks endangers peace, security and stability across regions. We have to continue and toughen our collective fight against these evils,” Jaitley told the 30th Special Session of the UN General Assembly on drugs problem.
“India is firmly committed to the three UN Conventions on drug matters,” said Jaitley.
“As supplier of licit opiate raw material to the world and traditional licit opium cultivator for centuries, India is fully conscious of its own responsibility to eradicate any illicit cultivation, reduce demand and put in preventive and enforcement measures.”
The fiance minister, nevertheless, maintained that national efforts, however intense and sincere, can’t deal with the drugs problem adequately and that bilateral, regional and global cooperation was essential in this area.
In this regard, he referred to a meeting hosted by New Delhi last November to coordinate regional efforts, and said India with support from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime was in advanced stages of setting up of a regional coordination centre for South Asia.
The Saricc, or the South Asia Regional Intelligence and Coordination Centre, will have as members India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives. It will help these countries share intelligence, and coordinate operations against such crimes.
The finance minister said it was also important to look at legitimate side of drugs.
“Several steps are being taken for strengthening of supply and demand-reduction activities and treatment and after-care facilities through a public health approach,” he said, adding India was committed to their availability for medical and scientific purposes.
Jaitley said to make drugs and substitutes available for palliative care, pain relief and cancer patients, as also drug abuse victims, India has notified a uniform and simplified rules in May last year on essential narcotic drugs to remove regulatory barriers.
He said three global treaties have served well in these aspects — the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
“The conventions provide sufficient flexibility to member states to fine-tune domestic laws so as to be commensurate with realities and challenges of 21st century. We strongly believe in the centrality of the three international drug control conventions.”
On the margins of the special session Jaitey also held some bilateral meetings, notably with Minister for the Cabinet Office of UK Oliver Letwin, Sri Lankan Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake and Thai Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya.