The public focus: the problem of drug trafficking
According to the UN, more than 35 million people around the world suffer from drug addiction, their number is only increasing. Experts note that the COVID-19 pandemic affects both drug distribution routes and the behavior of drug users and seriously complicates the fight against illicit drug trafficking.
According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the number of people who use drugs increased by 30 percent in the nine years from 2009 to 2018, reaching 269 million people. Moreover, drug use is increasing much faster in developing countries than in developed countries, and the majority of users are teenagers and young people.
The report notes that the coronavirus pandemic has made it more challenging. Border closures, flight cancellations and other restrictions have disrupted traditional drug supply routes. The shortage on the "black market" leads to the fact that people begin to use lower-quality and more dangerous drugs, and their prices are rising.
At the same time, rising unemployment and declining incomes may encourage people to seek illegal earnings, including growing illicit crops and transporting drugs. In addition, desperate people are more likely to find solace in alcohol and drugs, which means that a further increase in the number of drug users.
Within the framework of the regular public dialogue organized by the Nationwide movement "Yuksalish" and National Association of Electronic Mass Media on July 1 this year, legal, psychological, socio-economic aspects of the distribution of drugs and psychotropic substances in Uzbekistan were discussed, global trends, systemic problems, growth factors of the so-called “pharmacy drug addiction” were considered. The emphasis is placed on the need for widespread implementation of modern methods of preventing illicit drug trafficking, considering world practice, and involving the civil sector in preventive activities.
It was noted that further deterioration of the drug situation is predicted in Uzbekistan, which, with a developed road and railway infrastructure, is the most "convenient" territory as a "transit corridor" for the transportation of Afghan drugs. According to the National Information-Analytical Center for Drug Control under the Cabinet of Ministers, in 2019, 5026 (last year-4779) crimes related to drug trafficking were detected. At the same time, most of them are located in the Tashkent, Surkhandarya and Ferghana regions. Out of the total number of detected drug crimes, 1 701 (1626) are related to the drug distribution, 395 (266) — smuggling, 1064 (1238) — illegal cultivation of drug-containing plants.
The narcological situation was characterized by a continuing decrease in the number of drug addicts registered at the dispensary — 5698 (2018 — 6142). There was a slight increase in the number of drug addicts identified and registered at the dispensary. The growth rate was observed in the city of Tashkent, Bukhara and Tashkent region. The proportion of people with a first-time diagnosis of drug addiction was 73.4% (75.2%), of which 60.8% (65.6%) were dependent on cannabinoids. The proportion of women was 1.9% (2.1%), drug addicts aged 20-39 years – 31.9% (31.9%) and persons over 40 years – 68% (67.8%).
The first case of detection of the drug "spice" in Uzbekistan was registered in 2015, so far, several dozen new types of substances have been detected in illicit traffic. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, more than 60 different types of synthetic drugs are currently detected in the Central Asian region. Their relative cheapness, complexity of detection and identification, and variability of species and forms pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of the population, especially young people.
Within the framework of the dialogue, priority areas of international cooperation in the field of drug control were considered, with a focus on the potential of international and regional organizations. Participants — representatives of relevant government agencies, international organizations, journalists and bloggers, activists of public organizations — taking into account the continuing relevance of the problem of illicit drug trafficking, challenges and trends at the regional and country levels (pharmacy addiction, Internet sales, the emergence of non-traditional types of psychoactive substances for Uzbekistan), they emphasized the importance of further improving the legal framework with a focus on changes in the drug scene and new models of drug use, expanding qualified professional assistance for rehabilitation and overcoming stigmatization in society, and a comprehensive approach to prevention of drug abuse, creating a favorable environment for the development of children from an early age, proposals in this direction have been developed.
Press service of the Nationwide movement “Yuksalish”