Oman joins world against drugs, narcotics use

MUSCAT, June 25 – The Sultanate today joins other countries to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
The rising tendency among the youth to use narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances is a serious issue that requires combined efforts from the authorities and the general public.
Observed each year on June 26, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime uses the commemorative day to highlight the dangers of drug use and their illegal trade.
In Oman, the Directorate-General for Combating Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances at the Royal Oman Police (ROP) plays an important role in raising awareness on the dangers of drugs and its negative effects on individuals and society.
It has been working hard to tackle the issue by conducting intensive campaigns targeting the youth, the largest segment of drug users.
According to an official at the ROP, 2017 has seen a decrease in the number of drug-related crimes, though smuggling offences increased by 14 per cent.
Data shows that cases relating to drug abuse declined 51 per cent in the same year.
“The fall has happened thanks to various measures adopted by the authorities to reduce smuggling cases, including strict vigilance on the border and enhanced penalty to an offence, or use of better detection equipment,” said the official.
He said that awareness, treatment of addicts and participation of civil society organisations play an effective role in educating citizens about its dangers.
Parents should keep an eye on their children, said the official.
“Young people addicted to drugs may also turn to dealing in narcotics and pressure their peers to take part in illegal activity,” he said.
The Ministry of Health figures show that more than 2,700 were treated in hospitals for drug addiction in 2016, an 11-per cent increase from 2015.
According to amendments made in Combating Narcotics and Psychotropic Drugs Law, violators face stiffer penalties, including death penalty and life sentence for drug peddlers and smugglers.
Article 43 of the amended law stipulates death penalty or life in prison for drug dealers as well as a fine of more than RO 25,000.
It also stipulates death penalty for anyone who has a connection with international drug trafficking gangs.
Anyone who produces, imports or exports drugs will face either death penalty or a life sentence, according to Article 43.
In April this year, 17 people were booked on charges of drug possession and abuse in Al Dakhiliyah and Al Dhahirah governorates.
According to an official at the ROP, most of the drug traffickers who were arrested in Oman are expatriates.

SAMUEL KUTTY