PNG AND AUSTRALIA JOINTLY WORKING IN FIGHT AGAINST DRUGS

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By Theresa Ame

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 29, 2000 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Australia and Papua New Guinea are combining efforts to stamp out drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking along their common borders, said a representative of the Australian High Commission.

Frank Clair, the Australian Federal Police representative based at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby, said his government had already set up an office in the Torres Straits in recognition of the drug menace plaguing the region.

"We participate in join border patrols; and within the past 10 years of working together, we have managed to dismantle a number of major drug syndicates," Mr. Clair said.

He was responding to Justice Minister Kilroy Genia's remarks that drug trafficking across the Torres Straits is a major concern to the authorities in PNG, Australia and Indonesia, whose territory West Papua shares a land border with the western edge of PNG.

Speaking at the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Minister Genia noted that illicit drug trafficking between Australia and PNG was increasing and becoming more difficult to arrest.

Drug traffickers are using increasingly sophisticated methods to conceal their goods to avoid detection, even by specially trained dogs, he said.

According to Minister Karani, PNG serves a large domestic and international market not only as a transit point for the passage of drug, but also with locally cultivated marijuana.

He said many coffee, tea and vegetable farmers had been lured into growing marijuana because of its lucrative price.

Deputy Police Commissioner for Operations Sam Inguba said drug abuse and drug trafficking are not problems for the police and the National Narcotics Bureau alone.

"This is a problem that we should all fight," he told The National.

"PNG police are doing all they can with the help of the Australian federal police, especially when it came to the Torres Straits. There is also close monitoring of major ports in PNG by the Customs Bureau and the National Drugs Squad," he said.

Noting peer pressure and the generation gap between authority figures and children as undesirable factors leading to drug abuse, Mr. Inguba called for children to be educated from an early age about the dangers of drugs.

He said he hoped the Department of Education would work together with police to include drug education into the school curriculum.

He suggested also that police officers take time off to visit schools to bring home an anti-drug message.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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