Extract from the Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board Focuses on Relationship between Drug Abuse, Crime and Violence at Community Level
VIENNA, 27 February (UN Information Service) — The impact of drug abuse on crime and violence at the community level is the main focus of the 2003 Annual Report of the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), released on 3 March 2004.
“At this level, drug abuse is often linked with antisocial behaviour such as delinquency, crime, and violence and has negative consequences for individuals, families, neighbourhoods and communities that need to be addressed by the international community and individual governments,” INCB President Philip O. Emafo points out.
While the Board clarifies that most crime related to drug abuse is non-violent and petty, it stresses that the impact of illicit drugs, crime and violence is highly damaging to local communities at the micro-social level.
“The very fabric of society is challenged by the continued presence in communities of drug-related crime. Communities that suffer disproportionate levels of violent drug-related crime also suffer from higher levels of other criminality and the disruption to civil society associated with it,” says the Board.
The relationship between violence and illicit drug abuse is highly complex and has to be examined keeping a range of factors in mind. The Report maintains that a demonstrable link to violence and crime exists in that some drug addicts resort to violence either to fund their habits or indeed as a result of the psycho-pharmacological impact of some illicit drugs. However, based on controlled laboratory-based experiments, INCB stresses that it is very difficult and misleading to suggest a direct causal link between violence and illicit drug ingestion. This link has to be examined with reference to culturally and socially situated factors, that, in turn, influence an individual’s behaviour.
The INCB calls on Governments to implement comprehensive, community-based drug demand reduction policies, paying special attention to drug abuse prevention in combination with a range of social, economic and law enforcement measures. These should include: creating a local environment that is not conducive to drug dealing and micro-trafficking; supporting local efforts at employment and licit income generation; educational programmes targeting socially marginalized groups; and integrated as well as targeted intervention work with risk groups. The Board also notes that programmes need to be sustainable in the long term in order to generate the desired impact.
Harm reduction policies have previously been addressed by the Board. In the current Annual Report the Board once again “calls on Governments which intend to include “harm reduction” measures into their demand reduction strategy, to carefully analyse the overall impact of such measures. These may sometimes be positive for an individual or for a local community while having far-reaching negative consequences at the national and international levels.”
In reaction to specific harm reduction measures such as the establishment and/or operation of drug injection rooms the Board points out that “the operation of such facilities remains a source of grave concern” and “reiterates that they violate the provisions of the international drug control conventions.”
Despite the armed intervention and the political change in Afghanistan and the fight against terror, illicit cultivation of and trafficking in opiates has grown which may result in more political instability. Opium cultivation in Afghanistan continued on an even larger scale in 2003.
As a result of two years of bumper crops of opium poppy in Afghanistan, it is expected that heroin trafficking along the Balkan route and through Eastern Europe will continue to increase — this may also lead to the reversal of the declining trends in the abuse of heroin in Western Europe.
More widespread cultivation and abuse of cannabis in Europe combined with a relaxation of controls might counteract required efforts to eradicate illicit cultivation and combat trafficking in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
For further information please contact: INCB Tel: 00-43-1-26060-4163 Web address: www.incb.org