Sri Lanka envoy to UN Dr. Kohona refreshes global memory of Tamil Tiger massive drug trafficking

Original Post | Asia Tribune | June 29 2012

Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Palitha Kohona grabbed the opportunity while addressing the UN on June 26 to refresh the fading memory of the global community how his country’s terrorist group -Tamil Tigers- engaged in a broad, colossal and organized network of drug and narcotic trafficking worldwide to replenish its coffers to bifurcate the island-nation of Sri Lanka though brutal terrorism.

When the world was engaged in a pugnacious mechanism to defeat the trafficking of drugs and narcotics that hinder human development and global security, Sri Lanka’s LTTE was globally undermining that effort to replenish its coffers to fight a legitimate government that was committed to safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic institution, was what Dr. Kohona endeavored to enlighten the international community in this address to the United Nations.

Ambassador Kohona went on to highlight “Drug Trafficking was one of the main sources of finance for the LTTE terrorists as reflected in the World Drug Report 2012. The US Department of Justice has linked the LTTE with drug trafficking in its Drug Enforcement Administration Statement before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, entitled “Narco-Terrorism: International Drug Trafficking and Terrorism – a Dangerous Mix” in 2003.”

He continued to say: “Terrorist groups in many countries have engaged in the drug trade to finance themselves. Sri Lanka’s experience in dealing with drug trafficking was also linked to its fight against terrorism. As has been mentioned by the distinguished panelists, terrorist groups almost invariably tend to engage in other forms of organized crimes to raise finances, including money laundering, across borders. The same group has continued to engage in human trafficking.”

Nevertheless Dr. Kohona struck a brighter note in saying “When compared with other Asian countries, illicit drugs have not become a severe threat to Sri Lanka’s society itself or the economy. Largely as a result of its cultural and religious background, people have been reluctant to engage venture into large-scale drug related activities. The per capita consumption of drugs in the country is very low.

“We have to be continuously conscious of the possibility of regional drug distribution using Sri Lanka as a transit point.”

But what Dr. Kohona’s target was to bring the international community back to its senses at a time some of the nations in the community beginning to believe that Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger separatist/terrorist movement was fighting for that country’s minority Tamil population instead the terror group was flouting all international laws to buildup a massive political and military machinery to bifurcate this South Asian nation to establish an authoritarian rule subjecting the Tamil minority as captive people.

Ambassador Palitha Kohona was releasing this message to the international community addressing the UN General Assembly Thematic Debate on “Drug and Crime as a Threat to Development” in New York on June 26.

This was the “Interactive Panel Discussion on “Challenges in mainstreaming drug control into development initiatives, and ways of improving the international community’s coordinated efforts to address illicit drugs adverse impact on development.”

The UN forum was following the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on the Launch of the World Drug Report.

Following is the full text of the address by Ambassador Palitha Kohona, and the Asian Tribune invite its readers to understand fully what message he was endeavoring to convey to the international community as noted in our opening remarks and analyses.

Thank you for organizing this thematic debate today. We commend Mr Yury Fedotov, Executive Director, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on the Launch of the World Drug Report. This report is an eye-opener for all who are engaged in combating the illicit drug problem. The drug problem, as highlighted by our colleague, Mr. Maged Abdelaziz, is a threat to sustainable development and to civilized society.

The impact of illicit drugs is multi-faceted. The social and economic pillars of sustainable development are affected by illicit drugs as the proliferation of narcotic drugs corrodes social cohesion, disrupts established social values and is a massive drain on resources. However, drugs are produced in response to demand. Poor farmers, encouraged by drug lords will continue to rely on this source of income as long as there is a demand and there is no alternative source of income. The drug menace in many countries overshadows national development programmes.

The consumption of drugs and other attendant crimes also adversely impact on national and personal expenditure, health services, access to education and consumption of food and nutrition. A workforce, impacted by drugs, cannot function at its fullest potential and, therefore, is a severe threat to the optimum use of labor capacity in an economy.

Drugs have lead to organized criminal groups to take part in the production, distribution, and sale of controlled and banned substances. These activities have also become a threat to political stability and to the economy and society. In some cases, these groups have become powerful enough to challenge the State itself, in particular to critical State institutions.

Terrorist groups in many countries have engaged in the drug trade to finance themselves. Sri Lanka’s experience in dealing with drug trafficking was also linked to its fight against terrorism. As has been mentioned by the distinguished panelists, terrorist groups almost invariably tend to engage in other forms of organized crimes to raise finances, including money laundering, across borders. The same group has continued to engage in human trafficking.

Drug Trafficking was one of the main sources of finance for the LTTE terrorists as reflected in the World Drug Report 2012. The US Department of Justice has linked the LTTE with drug trafficking in its Drug Enforcement Administration Statement before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, entitled “Narco-Terrorism: International Drug Trafficking and Terrorism – a Dangerous Mix” in 2003.

When compared with other Asian countries, illicit drugs have not become a severe threat to Sri Lanka’s society itself or the economy. Largely as a result of its cultural and religious background, people have been reluctant to engage venture into large-scale drug related activities. The per capita consumption of drugs in the country is very low. Tourism, which is booming at present, may change this.

A strong law enforcement mechanism, including a strong legal culture, is also in place. This includes both preventive and punitive measures. It includes the monitoring of attempts at local production, imports, exports and distribution.

We have to be continuously conscious of the possibility of regional drug distribution using Sri Lanka as a transit point.

Sri Lanka’s national programme is guided by the National Policy for Prevention and Control of Drug Use. The National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB) is mandated to achieve balance between supply reduction measures, treatment and rehabilitation, and demand reduction measures. The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) spearheads the law enforcement dimension.

Sri Lanka is a party to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971), the UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988), and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2000). Sri Lanka is also a party to the UN Convention Against Corruption (2003).

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has also played a crucial role in building Sri Lanka’s capacities in the fields of legal drafting and training of law enforcement officers. We are also actively engaged in collaboration with regional organizations such as the Colombo Plan and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Sri Lankan agencies maintain constant contact with their counterparts in the South Asian region, especially in India and Pakistan. The Police Narcotics Bureau serves as a platform for SAARC countries to input, share, and review regional narcotics statistics.

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