Saudi panel honoured for drive against drugs



Muhammad Ali Koman, the council’s secretary-general, presented the award to Gen. Saeed bin Abdullah Al Qahtani, director general of public security, who received it on behalf of the ministry of interior.

The presentation function was held in Beirut on the sidelines of the 31st ministerial conference recently.

The drug awareness campaign acquires more significance in the light of the fact that the 150-member Shoura Council’s Security Affairs Committee recently expressed concern over increasing drug abuse in the Kingdom.

According to the Shoura, the number of drug addicts in the Kingdom rose from 109,000 in 2002 to 150,000 in 2005. A study conducted for the Royal Court by King Saud University found that boys as young as 10 years and girls as young as 13 are taking drugs in the Kingdom’s public schools.

Dr Humaid Al Shayegi said that the study covered many public schools in the Kingdom’s 13 regions, and many public schools refused to take part in the study even though the late King Fahd had commissioned it five years ago.

He said that drug usage was also widespread in the Kingdom’s prisons, and added that prisons are “schools that teach crime rather than just being institutions for reformation.”

He said that the percentage of drug usage in the Kingdom was still lower compared to other countries and that the efforts of the families to supervise their children as well as those of concerned government authorities were essential to combat the menace.

Meanwhile, a national strategy to combat drugs and narcotics in Saudi Arabia is on the anvil, as reportedly about 150,000 young Saudi men and women use various types of drugs.

The strategy has set out six objectives, which includes identifying the types of drugs used in general, its features and reasons, and developing precautionary measures, treatment and rehabilitation programmes.

Drugs play a big role in undermining social stability and national security and it targets mainly the country’s manpower. It has been described as more dangerous than the world wars in terms of impact. International drug trade is put at nearly $ 500 billion annually and there are 185 million drug addicts worldwide.

Saudi Arabia imposes capital punishment on drug smugglers, traffickers and cultivators. It has also signed a number of regional and international treaties and agreements for combating drugs.

A huge expatriate population, strong economy and the porous border are other factors that encourage drug traders to target the Kingdom.




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