On Tuesday, 21 July 2020, there was a briefing on Drug Trafficking in Africa with Heather Merritt, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The briefing was held virtually. As usual, TOPAFRICANEWS reporter participates from Kigali, the Capital City of Rwanda.
Mr. DUSABEMUNGU Ange de la Victoire’s question to Ms. Heather Merrit was:
Mr. Dusabemengu of Ange de la Victoire, “Is the U.S. a place where drug trafficking is primarily a business for the rich? The media often portrays it as such. How is the U.S. dealing with these issues in Africa when there is such a pressing duty to deal first with buyers and sellers in the U.S.?”
To this pressing question, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’response is as follows:
Moderator: Next, we will go to Rwanda. Mr. Dusabemengu of Ange de la Victoire, Top Africa News, again, in Rwanda. His question is, “Is the U.S. a place where trafficking is primarily a business for the rich? The media often portrays it as such. How is the U.S. dealing with these issues in Africa when there is such a pressing duty to deal first with buyers and sellers in the U.S.?”
DAS Merritt: Thanks for the question, Mr. Victoire, and I would just note that, as I said before, it’s a global issue and yet the United States favors a balanced approach to addressing drug trafficking. We recognize that we have to address supply, we have to address transit, and we also have to address demand, and we’re working on those issues at home and abroad. We’re trying to help globally all of our partners address drug demand and address substance use disorders around the world.
The devastating consequences of drug use – they don’t know any geographic or social or ethnic boundary. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people who are rich, poor, educated, not so educated, male, female, even children die of substance abuse disorders, and many others are victims of drug-fueled violence, whether that’s in the Sahel or whether that’s on the U.S.-Mexico border.
So beyond the toll that drugs take on the health and the welfare of our people, substance use disorders, drug addiction, it really undermines the economic development, diminishes social and political stability, and reduces security. And I would also note, again, that it fuels corruption and that that corruption is part of undermining legitimate government, undermining the democracies that – that our people have voted for, and it keeps us all – it – corruption makes us all less safe and undermines our ability to have government by the people and trade.
For over four decades, INL has responded boldly to the global challenges of drugs with innovative, evidence-based drug demand reduction programs, which helped to set worldwide standards. And we have really done a lot in the prevention and treatment space. We have also worked through cross-border dialogues and joint projects with foreign partners. And so we’ve been sharing some of our programming ideas and proven approaches to prevent drug use in the United States and around the world. And we conduct long-term evaluations of programs as a part of continuous improvement and reassignment.
So the programs that we’ve worked on with the Colombo Plan institutions, with ISSUP, with other international institutions, have really demonstrated increasingly effective ways to reduce use and – drug use and drug-related crime. So we are really proud of those efforts. So I think it’s important to note it is not a problem of the rich. It’s not a problem of the poor. We are all affected in very serious ways by the use of these substances and by the transnational criminal groups that move them around the world. Thanks.
FIND THE WHOLE BRIEFING ON SOUND CLOUD:549