27 April 2013

Drug trafficking in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 27 April 2013 - Illegal drug trafficking and use in East Timor is a significant social problem in East Timor that has become increasingly problematical in recent times. Over the last year, there have been significant seizures of illegal drugs and arrests of traffickers and those in possession of illegal drugs.

According to a report in the leading media publication, Tempo Semanal in November last year, between August and November of that year, dozens of foreigners, including Indonesians as well as citizens of African and European countries were arrested in connection with narcotics smuggling in East Timor. The total value of the drugs that have been seized was estimated to be between US$10 - $15million.

At that time, the Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, was reported to have acknowledged that East Timor was becoming a transit zone for criminals smuggling drugs into both Indonesia and Australia.

On 17 December 2012, the State Secretary of Defence, Julio Tomas Pinto, was quoted in Jornal Nacional Diario as saying that the Timorese military forces were to be deployed at the border with Indonesia to combat drug traffickers and networking. According to the leading security monitoring civil society organisation, Fundasaun Mahein (FM), that constituted "a kind of declaration of a war against drugs in East Timor", in much the same was as Western nations have declared wars on drugs.

At the meeting of the Timor-Leste Council of Ministers on April 23, 2013, the Government approved a Draft Resolution approving the Adhesion to the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and at a meeting between the Minister for Justice, Dionisio Babo, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Jose Luis Guterres and State Secretary for Security, Francisco da Costa Guterres on 25 April, the Minister for Justice, Dionisio Babo said that many young Timorese were currently taking drugs which had been illegally distributed.

“Young people here have started using drugs and it will destroy our society,” Minister Babo told journalists.

He added that, the Government was cooperating with neighboring countries in order to help assist East Timor through their laboratories for analysing drugs. Sources: Televizaun Timor-Leste 26 April 2013; ETLJB Edited by Warren L. Wright

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