Diazepam use increases among youth, statistics revealed [Archives:2007/1070/Health]

July 23 2007

Over 4000 kg of hashish, 804,000 pills of amphetamine, and 115 bags of cannabis were confiscated in Yemen during the first half of this year, according to Moneer Al-Janadi, director of Taiz anti-drug branch.

Al-Janadi's statement came during a special discussion symposium organized by the Human Rights Information and Training Center as a part of their Weekly Dialogue Forum about the legal stand concerning the phenomenon of usage of drugs, some of which lead to addiction.

Al-Janadi pointed out that tranquilizers, such as diazepam, are medically used to reduce anxiety, tension, insomnia, and convulsions as well as to decrease pain that results from surgical operations and to help one give up drugs. However, overuse of such medicine can result in the depression of one's respiratory center, unconsciousness, oblivion, frustration, weakness of memory, personality change, and sometimes death.

He also disclosed that use of such medicine has become a phenomenon among an increasing number of youth within Taiz governorate, confirming that accessibility to these kinds of drugs and their low price aggravate the problem. Furthermore, an anti-drug law issued in March 1992 does not forbid such kinds of medicine so long as they are prescribed by pharmacologists, in accordance with certain national regulations. All these factors have assisted in increasing the number of users of these drugs, resulting in an increase in drug-related crime, including suicide attempts.

Abdul Qawi Salem, executive director of the Human Rights Information and Training Center, maintained that civil society organizations play an important role in addressing such life-altering issues, noting that the center has already held a symposium on the issue of drug use and addiction, during which participants concentrated on the educational, psychological, and medical effects of using such drugs. He further added that the second symposium aimed to shed light on the legal side of the same phenomenon.

Judge Abdul Salam Moqbil, member of Prosecution of Appeal in Taiz, indicated that drug use is amongst the serious problems that affect people's physical and mental health as well as putting a strain on relevant government agencies, social reformers and doctors. Moqbil made clear that all countries realize the danger that these drugs pose to society at large. Hence, the drafting of legislated punishments against the drug trade, which vary from one country to another. According to Moqbil, in some countries, like China, drug traders are sentenced to death.

As for Yemen, he pointed out that the government has gradually started combating drugs since the latter part of the last century, including a law issued in 1992, which stipulates death as the punishment for drug trafficking.

Abdu Numan, head of lawyers syndicate, Taiz branch, explained that Yemen's anti-drug law is inadequate because it does not include a specific definition of drugs. In addition, the 32nd term of the law gives the Ministry of Agriculture the right to amend the drug list, a right that is considered illegal since the ministry has no authority to amend any legislation.

Participants in the symposium held by the Human Rights and Training Center recommended that a study on current drug legislation should be put forth in order to fill in any gaps and tackle any inadequacy in the law. They also emphasized cooperation between all governmental authorities together with civil society organizations, mosque leaders, intellectuals, social reformers and academic institutions to combat drugs. Additionally, the participants stressed the necessity of family monitoring and intervention in coordination with that of relevant authorities. The establishment of drug-treatment facilities focused on the rehabilitation of drug addicts and their successful re-integration within society was also mentioned.