The third meeting of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) Advisory Council on Dangerous Drugs (AIPACODD 3) was recently held in Hanoi via video conference under the theme “Turning words into action towards a drug-free ASEAN community”.
The common message of countries’ parliament leaders as well as experts and organisations, both at home and abroad, emphasised that the drug problem in the world and in the Southeast Asian region is becoming increasingly complicated. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the international community in general and ASEAN in particular are confronting a non-traditional security threat.
At AIPACODD 3, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Le Van Thanh delivered a report and put forward some practical proposals and suggestions, stating that as for Vietnam, solutions should be implemented in a synchronous fashion to ensure the effective implementation of drug addiction prevention, detoxification (detox) treatment. Accordingly, the Government and the National Assembly (NA) need to continue reviewing to perfect the legal system regarding drug addiction prevention, treatment and detox in a more appropriate manner and towards international standards in the field. Another important point is to diversify forms of addiction treatment and detox; devise mechanisms and policies to encourage organisations, individuals, enterprises, and production and business establishments to admit people back to work after detox; improve capabilities for the detox treatment staff in the community; and promote and replicate the community-based detox model.
Representatives from ministries, sectors and international experts stressed the need to continue enhancing international cooperation in drug prevention and control, especially in the work of addiction prevention and treatment as recommended by the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS), while strengthening the sharing of countries’ experiences in integrated addiction management and treatment. Facing the trend of drug legalisation and the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s recommendation on the removal of cannabis and cannabis extracts from the UN control lists, Vietnam affirmed its support for the view of ASEAN and many other countries on an attitude of intolerance regarding drugs and disapproval of the drug legalisation trend, while staying steadfast with the roadmap towards the vision of building a drug-free ASEAN Community.
In the recent past, the Vietnamese Government has issued many policies, thereby institutionalising the law’s provisions, and has utilised policies and mechanisms to implement drug addiction prevention, treatment and detoxification. The international community highly appreciates Vietnam piloting the model “Supporting legal and social advice and referrals for participants in drug detox”. This is the first model in Vietnam featuring the participation of commune-level police forces in introducing, connecting and referring drug users to local social affairs workers to screen, assess and encourage addicts to visit establishments that provide advisory services and support voluntary treatment in the community. Currently, the model is being implemented in 12 wards across six districts in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang city and is showing positive initial results.
According to reports and statements by the representatives of countries’ legislative bodies, drug prevention and control strategies, with the determination of governments, parliaments and social communities, should be adjusted to suit the new situation. From the experience in developing the community-based drug addiction treatment and addict support models in Vietnam, lawmakers pledged to continue accompanying their countries’ governments in devising and perfecting measures to enhance drug use prevention through early intervention programmes for adolescents associated with poverty reduction and livelihood creation, ensuring the motto “no one is left behind”. Vietnam’s guidelines, policies and laws are always consistent with ASEAN’s common view of intolerance towards drugs and disapproval of the drug legalisation trend. Moreover, Vietnam will ensure a balance between solutions to reduce supply and demand, while staying steadfast with the roadmap towards the vision of building a drug-free ASEAN Community. The Vietnamese NA has been making efforts to improve its laws and strengthen supervision in this field. In the near future, the legislature will study, amend and supplement the Law on Drug Prevention and Control and some other relevant laws, thereby making appropriate adjustments to cope with new challenges in drug prevention and fight for the long term.