COVID-19 Pandemic Could Lead To More Narcotic Use – UN

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on September 5, 2018, Palestinian school children raise the victory gesture over a UN flag during a protest at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, financed by US aid, in the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. HAZEM BADER / AFP.


The coronavirus pandemic could see a rise in the use and trafficking of narcotics as well as increased risks for users, the UN drugs and crime agency (UNODC) said on Thursday.

The virus could lead to an overall increase in drug use with a shift towards cheaper products and injecting, both of which could mean greater danger for users, the agency said in its 2020 World Drug Report.

The Vienna-based agency said there were lessons to be learnt from what happened in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis.

The UNODC warned that drug consumption has already been rising at an “alarming” rate over the last decade.

It also warned that countries were more likely to further reduce drug-related budgets and to give less priority to anti-trafficking operations and international cooperation in the wake of the pandemic.

Rising unemployment and a lack of opportunities would increase the chances that poor and disadvantaged people “turn to illicit activities linked to drugs -– either production or transport”, the report said.

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“The COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn threaten to compound drug dangers further still, when our health and social systems have been brought to the brink and our societies are struggling to cope,” UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly said in a statement accompanying the report.

“We need all governments to show greater solidarity and provide support, to developing countries most of all, to tackle illicit drug trafficking and offer evidence-based services for drug use disorders and related disease.”

– ‘Very alarming’ –

The pandemic comes on the back of a trend of already rising drug use, especially in developing countries, with UNODC finding 269 million people in 2018 had used drugs at least once, up 30 percent from a decade earlier.

“This is a very alarming increase. Not just the increase in the amount of people using drugs, but there are more youths, adolescents, children using drugs,” Waly told AFP on Thursday.

The UNODC said the pandemic could have a further “far-reaching impact”.

Border closures and other measures linked to the virus have already caused shortages of drugs on the street, leading to higher prices and reduced purity, the report said.

Drug traffickers seemed to be relying more on maritime routes, including continuing direct cocaine shipments by sea from South America to Europe, but also now transporting drugs via rivers rather than roads in Latin America, UNODC official Angela Me told a press conference.

The report, which mostly examined data up to early 2019, said the use of cocaine and methamphetamine was rising, with growing methamphetamine markets in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Global cocaine production again reached an all-time high, continuing its record-setting trend.

While the area under coca cultivation remained stable from 2017 to 2018, production has become more efficient, Me said.

Me also noted how the market in addictive drugs had become “bigger and more complex” because of an increasing number of substances being abused, some of which are currently legal.

Cannabis remains the most widely used drug worldwide with an estimated 192 million users in 2018.

But opioids, used by around 58 million people, remained the most harmful.

Opioids accounted for two-thirds of the estimated 167,000 deaths related to drug use disorders in 2017.


Cocaine Production Hit New Record In 2017 – UN Report

FILE PHOTO USED TO DEPICT THE STORY: This photo released by the Honduran Technical Agency for Criminal Investigation (Agencia Tecnica de Investigacion Criminal, ATIC) shows ATIC members counting packets of cocaine in San Pedro Sula, 180km north of Tegucigalpa, on September 14, 2018. 


Global cocaine production reached an all-time high in 2017, breaking the previous year’s record by 25 percent, the UN drugs and crime agency said Wednesday in its annual report, as production soars in post-conflict Colombia.

New remote fields and criminal gangs boosted production in the world’s top supplier, despite efforts to steer rural communities away from coca cultivation following a peace deal with FARC rebels.

“Of course it’s bad news every time. It’s bad news for the producing countries… What is happening in Columbia is worrisome,” said Angela Me, chief of research of the Vienna-based United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The report said the jump in production “was mainly driven by increases in cocaine manufacture in Colombia, which produced an estimated 70 percent of the world’s cocaine”.

In the decade to 2017, there was a 50 percent increase in manufacture, reaching a record 1,976 tons two years ago, according to the report, which bases its figures on national monitoring systems.

Over the same 10-year period, the amount of cocaine seized worldwide rose by 74 percent.

In 2017, authorities across the globe intercepted a record quantity of the drug: in all 1,275 tons were seized, up 13 percent year-on-year.

“This suggests that law enforcement efforts have become more effective and that strengthened international cooperation may be helping to increase interception rates,” the report said.

Almost 90 percent of seizures were in the Americas, with Colombia alone intercepting 38 percent of the global total in 2017.

Cocaine production in some central areas of Colombia dropped following the 2016 peace deal with the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, as farmers were offered alternatives to growing coca bush.

But the report said Colombia has since seen more coca cultivation, with new fields — often far away from major cities — being planted and criminal groups moving into areas previously controlled by the rebels.

– Opioid crisis worsening –

The report gave 2018 figures for global opium production, which had soared to a record in 2017.

It said drought in Afghanistan had helped spur a drop in output by 25 percent to some 7,790 tons in 2018, adding that previous years’ overproduction had likely also knocked prices.

UNODC also sharply hiked its estimates of how many people suffer from drug use disorders and need treatment, after it ran surveys in populous India and Nigeria.

Globally some 35 million people were affected in 2017, some 4.5 million people more than previously estimated, UNODC said.

“A lot more people need treatment than we previously thought… Six out of seven don’t receive the treatment they need,” Me said, adding the organisation could revise its numbers again were it given access to data from China.

North America’s opioid crisis also reached new heights in 2017 with more than 47,000 opioid overdose deaths in the United States, the report said.

UNODC estimates that there were 53.4 million opioid users worldwide in 2017, up 56 percent from the 2016 estimate due to the surveys from India and Nigeria.

While fentanyl and its analogues remained the key problem in North America, tramadol is besetting West, Central and North Africa.

Global seizures of the synthetic opioid surged from less than 10 kilogrammes in 2010 to almost nine tons in 2013 and a record 125 tons in 2017.

Cannabis remains the most widely used drug worldwide with an estimated 188 million people using it, the report said.


Women In Africa Stand Greater Risk Of Gender-Based Violence – UNODC



As the world celebrates the 2019 International Women’s Day, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, has warned against gender-related killings on women and girls in Africa.

In a statement, the acknowledged the high risks women face by referring to a 2017 report, which revealed that 87,000 women were killed globally and about 60 per cent of the crime was perpetrated by intimate partners or family members including parents, children or any other member of their family.

“While the vast majority of homicide victims are men, women continue to pay the highest price as a result of gender inequality, discrimination and negative stereotypes. They are also the most likely to be killed by intimate partners and family,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov at the launch of the report.

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The agency also faulted lack of reliable and available data on homicide in Africa, stressing that, states need to implement the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (ICCS) in order to properly analyse data on gender-related killings.

“The lack of reliable data on homicides in Africa is a strong obstacle to fully understand the trends and scope of gender-related killings as well as the links with other forms of violence.

“Implementing the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (ICCS) constitutes a step for states to better collect and analyze data on gender-related killings.

“States should also ratify and implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women as well as its protocols and other international treaties protecting women’s rights, including the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).”

UNODC Calls For Better Approach On Anti-Corruption Fight

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is calling for more drastic actions to be taken in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

The country’s representative of the UNODC, Mrs Cristina Albertein who spoke at the launch of the document in Abuja, appealed for a more coordinated approach between government agencies and development partners in fighting the menace.

“There is the need to also investigate and prosecute the corrupt offences and in that context also to have mechanisms of international co-operations so that if offenders go to other countries and try to deposit stolen money overseas, that there is cooperation between the countries to bring offenders back and also to recover the stolen assets,” she said.

The appeal follows the release of a report by the National Corruption Survey, conducted in conjunction with the UNODC and published by the National Bureau of Statistics.

In a detailed breakdown of the extent to which bribery and corruption is being practiced in the nation, the survey revealed that Nigerians have spent about N400 billion on payment for bribe between June 2015 and June 2016.

Also according to the report, almost one bribe is paid by every adult Nigerian per year by combining the total number of people who paid a bribe to a public official.

Meanwhile on his part, the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo says it is impossible to implement government policies or programmes with the level of corruption that has bedeviled Nigeria.

He said this on Wednesday during the swearing-in of 15 new Permanent Secretaries in Abuja, adding that if allowed to thrive, corruption will rob citizens of the benefits of democracy.

Professor Osinbajo, therefore, used the opportunity to advise the new Permanent Secretaries to be diligent with their duties especially in line with the government’s anti-graft war.

“It is your responsibility as Federal Permanent Secretaries especially the new Federal Permanent Secretaries chosen and selected on merit, to ensure that you carry out in the fullest measure, all of the anti-corruption measures of this government.

“We expect that Permanent Secretaries will be the drivers of the implementation of the executive orders,” he stated.

IGP Warns Against Police Brutality

IGP Warns Against Police BrutalityThe Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, has warned men and officers of the Police against the use of fire arms and official powers to intimidate and violate the fundamental human rights of suspects and Nigerians, in the course of executing the mandate of the Police.

Mr Ibrahim issued the warning in Makurdi, at a three-day human rights sensitization workshop for Divisional Police Officers serving in Benue state.

The training was facilitated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC and PRAWA.

The IGP advised participants to be civil in their official conduct and not portray the Police force and the Nigerian government as dictatorial.

He was represented at the three-day workshop by the Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone 4, Mr Oshodi Agboola.

Experts Attribute Drug Abuse Among Youth To Joblessness

drugSome psychiatrists in Abuja have attributed the rising cases of drug abuse and mental illnesses among young people to frustration and depression, resulting from joblessness in the society.

At a forum organised to sensitize youths about the dangers and effect of drug abuse on their health, the participants said societal rather than biological factors, account for more cases of drug abuse and mental illnesses among Nigerian youths.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Nigeria has a relatively high rate of drug abuse due to the continued availability of illicit pharmaceutical products in the country.

Other participants also believe that stigmatization makes drug abuse among youths worse.

Although there are no clear records of the number of youths involved in drug abuse in Nigeria, the resultant effect of such practice has continued to be a concern that both the government and the public must seek to address.

According to UNODC report, Nigeria is a transit point for heroin and cocaine intended for European, East Asian and North American markets.

LAW WEEKLY: Focus On EU Sponsored Justice Sector Reform Plan

law weeklyThis edition of the programme focused on the Justice Sector Reform Plan funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC.

Last week Tuesday, the UNODC kickstarted a process aimed at developing an action plan for the justice sector reform in the country. Extensive deliberations on an action plan also began in Lagos, one of the pilot states and stakeholders.

The reform seeks to encourage a strategic and sustainable approach towards the justice system as a means of enhancing good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Channels Television’s Shola Soyele, was one of the participants at the Lagos action planning workshop.

Apart From Lagos, Rivers, Imo, Anambra, Benue, Bayelsa, Yobe, Osun, Katsina and the FCT were also selected by the European Union to benefit from this justice sector project.

On the NBA and its impending elections, some senior lawyers have spoken about the electoral process and the kind of president the Nigerian Bar needs. A few of them shared their views with Law Weekly.

UNODC Kick-start Justice Sector Reform Action Plan

UNODCThe United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, on Tuesday, kick-started a process that would lead to the development of an action plan for the justice sector reform in Nigeria.

In pursuing this cause, UNODC is – among other solutions – leading a justice sector reform plan starting with Lagos, which pro-actively already has a criminal justice sector reform plan.

Private lawyers, lawyers from the states ministry of Justice, members of the Nigerian Bar Association in the state, police officers, prison officials, civil society and all key actors of the justice sector in Lagos gathered at a workshop organised by the UNODC.

Representatives of the various justice sector institutions took turns to make meaningful contributions on what should be the focus, plans, required actions and outcomes.

It was agreed that there was a need for collaboration and co-operation among the institutions to achieve an all-inclusive reform plan.

The justice sector reform seeks to encourage a strategic and sustainable approach towards the justice system, as a means of enhancing good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

The justice sector reform is to be carried out in ten states across the country.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, is a United Nations agency entrusted with the mandate to assist member states in their efforts against corruption, illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.

Nigerian Navy Decries Inability To Effectively Tackle Maritime Crime

While the Nigerian Army counts its gains in the fight against insurgency, the Navy is raising an alarm over the increase in maritime crime in the country.

Though the Navy acknowledges this worrisome trend, its ability to respond adequately to it appears to be limited by various factors.

At a session designed for junior officers on how to police the maritime environment at the Department Of Maritime Warfare, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji Kaduna, Rear-Admiral Sanmi Alade, said that crime in the territorial waters of the Gulf of Guinea has become sophisticated, as the criminals keep devising various means to the beat the law.

He however added that: “The Nigerian Navy’s cooperation with other maritime stakeholders… has helped in no small measures in curbing many of the threats in our maritime environments. The successes achieved so far through such collaborations should encourage us to proceed towards even greater efforts in the field of cooperation.”

One of the challenges mentioned by speakers at the session is poor communication infrastructure, which they said often affects command and control and makes timely response to crisis situation difficult and also limits the extents to which agencies can offer assistance among themselves.

One of the participants, Lieutenant Chinwe Emeruwa said: “The Nigerian Navy and most maritime related agencies do not have a common network for collating, analyzing, sharing and storing intelligence. Consequently, vital information that would have been used to address crisis situations are not disseminated or accessed.”

Other maritime related crimes were also analyzed at the session, including crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, with recommendations made on how to combat them.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, pirate attacks off Nigeria’s coast have risen by a 3rd, as ships passing through West-Africa’s Gulf of Guinea have increasingly come under threat from gangs wanting to snatch cargoes and crews.