Defence Secretary assures eradication of narcotics crimes | Daily News


Defence Secretary assures eradication of narcotics crimes

Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. (Rtd.) Kamal Gunaratne said that immediate action would be taken against prison, law enforcement, and other officials found abusing their powers and aiding and abetting criminals and drug-traffickers. He said the law enforcement authorities had already taken measures to identify those who are abusing their power.

“When we were in the military academy, we were taught that the most dangerous enemy is the enemy within. We now need to identify and confirm that enemy within us to eradicate the drug menace. Otherwise, it will be a futile effort,” the Defence Secretary said.

Addressing a gathering at the cornerstone ceremony held to build a new rehabilitation centre at the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB) in Nittambuwa, last morning, he assured to take all necessary measures to eradicate the drug menace in Sri Lanka, soon.

Gunaratne said that those addicted to drugs need sympathy, support, and assistance to reintegrate into society to lead productive lives. The planned rehabilitation centre, which is targetted to rehabilitate nearly 1,000 drug addicts, will be constructed with the assistance of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

He added that the first corrective measure should be at rescuing children who have fallen prey to this issue, the second was saving our future generations, and that the third was to identify those who abuse their powers to aid such wrongdoings.

NDDCB Chairman Dr. Laknath Welagedara said that the new building, called ‘Nawa Diganthaya’, for treatment and rehabilitation centre, would be built in partnership with the Government of Germany and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The construction work is being undertaken by the Navy.

Deputy German Ambassador Andreas Berg said that Germany was supporting the initiative as a part of a much larger project strengthening the capacity of Sri Lanka to prevent and counter terrorism and violent extremism through effective criminal justice responses.

Berg also said that the NDDCB’s new facility would support the government’s efforts to decongest prisons, at which a high number of drug users are currently being held. UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme Head Alan Cole said that since land routes for drug-trafficking has been restricted amidst COVID-19 lockdowns, maritime routes have become more attractive, placing the Navy at the forefront in the regional fight against drug-trafficking.

Foreign Affairs Ministry Secretary Ravinatha Ariyasinghe, Navy Commander Vice-Admiral Piyal de Silva, Rehabilitation Commissioner-General Maj. Gen.(Rtd.) Darshana Hettiarachchi, Prisons Commissioner-General Thushara Upuldeniya, and Defence Ministry Additional Secretary Malika Sooriyapperuma were also present.

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