Yemen marks World Anti-drug Day [Archives:2006/958/Local News]

June 26 2006

By: Amel Al-Ariqi
SANA'A, June 24 ) More than 104 kilograms of drugs were burned in Sana'a last Friday in the presence of the vice-interior minister, officials and hundreds of citizens.

“This event is considered the first step in a program arranged to destroy other drugs in nine governorates around the republic,” said Brig. Khalid Mutaher Al-Radhi, Director General of the Anti-Narcotics General Directorate (ANGD).

The destroyed drugs included 17,800 kg. of heroin, 85,959 kg. of hashish and 33,623 hallucinogenic tablets.

“Drug destroying” was part of activities the ANGD arranged to mark World Anti-drug Day, which falls on Monday. The directorate also is organizing a celebration on Tuesday at the Cultural Center in Sana'a. Moreover, it will launch an awareness campaign via mass media.

“We can't ignore the fact that the magnitude of the narcotics problem in our country is increasing continuously, whether in promotion and administration or importing and smuggling,” Al-Radhi stated.

Drug traders utilize Yemen's geographical location between producing countries in West and East Asia and consuming countries worldwide. Additionally, they exploit Yemen's topographic relief characterized by vast deserts and high, rough mountains to make Yemen a transit gate to neighboring countries, according to Al-Radhi.

“Unfortunately, the directorate didn't receive any type of support from any authorities – neither donors, nor regional or international organizations. All efforts that have been made were the directorate's own.”

Al-Radhi pointed to the increasing danger of drug crimes, as they're considered organized crime that funds other crimes like terrorism, weapons trading and money laundering.

in 1980s,Yemen's drug fighting process was under Criminal Investigation authority. Yemen approved international anti-drug conventions in 1992 and although a 2002 Republic Statement established the ANGD, the actual running of the directorate was began in 2004.

According to ANGD statistics for 2000-2005, more than 6,000 kg. of hashish, 1,500 hashish plants and nearly 300,000 narcotic tablets were seized from 329 drug suspects (305 Yemenis and 24 of other nationalities) in 202 cases.

In the first five months of 2006, the ANGD investigated 66 cases, wherein they arrested 106 drug suspects (101 Yemenis and five of other nationalities) with more than 205 kg. of hashish and 322 narcotic tablets.

“Just last week, we seized 990 kg. of hashish in Al-Mahra governorate and 72 kg. of the same in Amran governorate,” Al-Radhi noted. According to him, the most common drugs in Yemen are hashish and methamphetamines.

Under Yemeni law, punishment for trafficking in or selling drugs ranges from imprisonment (25 years maximum) to death. Punishment for drug users is imprisonment for the term assessed by a judge.

“Yemeni law considers the drug user like a patient needing help, particularly if the user has come to involved authorities to inform them of other drug cases. The judge has the right to exempt him and send him to a sanitarium,” Al-Radhi added.