A grim public health issue which is not taken in this country as much seriously as it should be, drug abuse refers to the persistent extreme addictive use of narcotics for non-medicinal purposes, affecting an emotional and sometimes physical state, characterised by an uncontrollable impulse to take them on a regular basis in order to experience its mental effects.
Given that the major danger of drug abuse is that it induces physical and psychological dependence including withdrawal syndrome, consequently engendering mental, biological and economic instability, thus having cumulative adverse effects on society and the country at large—- the statement of Mr. Tipu Munshi, the ruling Awami League MP from Rangpur-4, (Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs) that he heard about the involvement of a few lawmakers in illicit narcotics trade, as reported in the Bengali daily Samakal,bd.allnews24.com etc on 27 June 2015, is not surprising as this matter has been in the news during the last several months. The State Minister for Home Affairs Mr. Asaduzzaman Kamal corroborated the statement without mentioning the person’s name who is a ruling Awami League MP from Cox’s Bazar.
An article headlined “Unstoppable and untouchable Bodi” in the 13 October 2014 issue of the Dhaka Tribune detailed about this individual, Abdur Rahman Bodi, ruling Awami League lawmaker, who was arrested during the military-backed caretaker government, and was also sent to jail on12 October 2014 in a case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission for earning huge illegal wealth between 2008 and 2013. Many say he is unstoppable; he is hard to be moved from his stance even if he is wrong.
Bodi became an MP for the first time in 2008 with Awami League ticket and then in the January 5 poll this year. He had at least 23 cases filed against him at different times. All the charges against him, except for two-three cases, were withdrawn by the Home Ministry’s committee that dealt with “politically motivated cases.” He has grabbed the sea and river ports here, and faces allegations of smuggling and extortion. Bodi and his four brothers started controlling all the businesses in the areas—- two of them are listed as top Yaba traders and criminals by the Home Ministry. The two other brothers too are allegedly involved in Yaba peddling.
Significant increase of drug addiction worldwide has alarmed the United Nations and World Health Organization (WHO). Out in Bangladesh, according to sources at different healthcare facilities, nowadays nearly 10 per cent of outpatients are visiting the country’s hospitals with cases of addiction-related complications from abuse of heroin, marijuana and Phensedyl, a BSS report dated14 August 2013 said adding that over these years many teenagers were arrested for using drugs than ever before. The trend of drug consumption is higher in youths and teenagers belonging to all strata of the milieu here, while students are mostly falling victims to drug abuse—-that stem from curiosity egged on by friends, despair and frustration for persistent failure in works or economic insolvency.
It is estimated that the number of addicts in Bangladesh is more than six million who spend over Tk 70 million every day on illegal narcotics, say studies and intelligence reports. Another study conducted by the Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition (JHPN) of the ICDDR,B shows that in Dhaka city, 79.4 per cent of the users are male and 20.6 per cent are female. The JHPN study finds that 64.8 per cent of the drug users in the country are unmarried, 56.1 percent are either students or unemployed, and 95.4 per cent are smokers. About 85.7 per cent get into consuming drugs under the influence of friends, while 65.8 percent get addicted to various codeine-based cough syrups known as Phensedyl or ‘dail’, the most popular among the masses because of its low price and easy availability.
In a news report headlined “Drug supply comes from factories on Indian frontier” in the Dhaka Tribune dated 2 June 2013, said, around 40 illegal drug factories set up along neighbouring Indian border areas are the key sources of drug supply to Bangladesh, according to an intelligence report. Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) have expressed their concern and called upon Indian authorities for closure of such factories. The BGB authority issued several letters to its counterpart in India to take steps to rein in drug exports to Bangladesh, but to no avail, said the report. Large amounts of phensedyl enter Bangladesh daily, dodging law enforcers. Several factories on the frontier were demolished by Indian authorities, paying heed to the concerns of the Bangladesh government; but, many are still operating.
More than 1 lakh people are directly involved in illegal drug trade and supply. The study reveals that peddlers prefer women and children for carrying and selling drugs because it is easier for them to evade law enforcers. According to intelligence sources at the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC), heroin is the deadliest of drugs in Bangladesh. In recent times, Yaba has gained popularity and has become a “fashionable” drug. Sources at the DNC intelligence wing also said that around 10,000 cases are filed and 9,000 people are arrested every year in connection with drug-related violence and crimes.
Physicians say weaning someone off drug addiction is difficult, but not impossible. Support from family and friends, professional help from doctors, and will power of the patient during inpatient or outpatient drug addiction treatment may help to end dependence on drugs; but the foremost task of the Government should be to punish the godfathers and close off the entry points of Yaba, Heroin, Phensedyl and so on.
Barrister Harun ur Rashid
US and Chinese top diplomats and finance officials met on 22nd June in Washington for two days are gathering for the annual U.S.-China strategic and economic dialogue, viewed as an important forum managing ties between the world’s two leading economies.
The breadth of the talks, now entering their seventh year, reflected efforts to deepen and strengthen ties between the global powers.
According to Avery Goldstein, director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at the University of Pennsylvania “Out of the summit (between presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping) last year in Beijing, there was the announcement by the Americans and the Chinese on working together towards the next big international climate change conference. I think that’s an area that we can pretty much predict cooperation.”
Another major topic for cooperation on the economic side might be the bilateral investment treaty between the two countries, Goldstein said, “If that can be hammered out to the point that some announcement could be made in September, that would be another area where I think both countries would like to see progress made, “ he noted, adding that “it’s not gonna be easy though.”
More than six years after the global financial crisis, the world economy remains moderate and uneven. “China’s economy is slowing down. The American economy coming appears to be getting back on a sound footing but not entirely clear”, while the Federal Reserve “looks like going to actually start increasing interest rates” this year.
As the world’s two largest economies, the U.S. and China are increasingly becoming interdependent, with their trade volume hitting $550 billion U.S. dollars last year and their combined economies accounting for about 40 percent of global GDP growth. Both sides have an enormous stake in each other’s economic performance, and also a joint possibility to pursue policies that support the global economy.
This year’s dialogue is clouded by mistrust and heightened tensions over China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea and suspicions Beijing was behind a massive hack on U.S. government computers in which millions of personnel files were stolen.
Vice President Joe Biden sharply warned Beijing that the world’s waterways which carry 80 percent of the planet’s commerce must remain open. “Responsible countries adhere to international law and work together to keep international sea lanes open for unimpaired commerce,” Biden said pointedly.
The scale of Chinese building and militarization of man-made islands in the South China Sea has raised concern in the region about Beijing’s territorial ambitions.
Last month the U.S. flew a rare and highly publicized military surveillance flight in the area to highlight the massive scale of activity. China calls the islands its sovereign territory, but the U.S. has said China is building in disputed waters and is threatening freedom of navigation in sea lanes which are keys for international trade.
Free and frank talks
Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s executive vice foreign minister, Zhang Yesui, led talks between civilian and military officials to discuss security issues.
A senior State Department official briefing reporters said discussions were already “candid and to the point” and that the aim of the security discussions was to “really try to get at those issues which are the most likely to drive strategic mistrust between the U.S. and China.”
“The talks are all the more important for the need to address these issues head on, not try to paper them over, not try to agree to disagree,” the official said. “But to try to actually talk about them, and see if we can in particular kind of try to narrow the differences but certainly at least make sure that we’re communicating clearly on the areas of difference so that we don’t miscalculate, misunderstand, etc.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew hosted China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vice Premier Wang Yang for a private dinner, before political and economic talks officially on 23rd June.
In unusually frank comments, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang agreed Beijing and Washington do not agree on everything, admitting “on some issues, perhaps, consensus still eludes us.” But he insisted “neither of us could afford the cost of noncooperation or even all-out confrontation.”
“Decision-makers of both countries must always remember that confrontation is a negative sum game in which both sides will pay heavy prices and the world will suffer too,” Wang said.
State Councilor Jiechi vowed China would work with the United States “in a spirit of openness, to properly address the relevant issues.”
China urges US: Mobilize more savings
The already tense relationship between the U.S. and China over cyber security has recently become more fraught after the Chinese suspended a separate track of talks to discuss the issue a year ago when the U.S. charged five Chinese military officers with hacking. Although the cyber working group has not met in recent times, U.S. officials have said cyber security would be raised throughout the talks, both from a security context and an economic one.
“We remain deeply concerned about Chinese government-sponsored cyber-enabled theft of confidential business information and proprietary technology from US companies. Such activity falls outside of the bounds of acceptable state behavior in cyberspace,” US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told the delegations.
Both sides have an interest in reducing tensions ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the White House in September, his first since taking office two years ago. President Barack Obama also met key members of the Chinese delegation.
China’s state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the foreign ministry spokesman as saying talks are an opportunity to “push for a new model of major power relationship.”
The talks has provided an important opportunity for both sides to expand economic cooperation, manage their differences, and create “a more productive and collaborative environment” Both sides are emphasizing areas of cooperation between the two countries, like diplomacy on North Korea and a nuclear deal with Iran, climate change, Afghanistan and fighting the Ebola virus.
In a sign of China’s discontent, Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei called on the US to boost its domestic savings and investment to strengthen growth, including spending to improve infrastructure. “The United States should have a proper mechanism to mobilize more savings to direct to investment,” he said, pointing out that China’s contribution to global growth is 30 percent, while the US, the largest economy in the world, added only 10 percent.
Creation of Pacific community
Henry Kissinger in his book “On China” (2012), indulges his habitual preference for diplomatic architecture between the US and China. Kissinger insists that the common interests the two powers share should make possible a “co-evolution” to “a more comprehensive framework.”
He envisions wise leaders creating a “Pacific community” comparable to the Atlantic community that America has achieved with Europe. All Asian nations would then participate in a system perceived as a joint endeavour rather than a contest of rival Chinese and American blocs.
And leaders on both Pacific coasts would be obliged to “establish a tradition of consultation and mutual respect,” making a shared world order “an expression of parallel national aspirations.”
The writer is former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.
A. M. K. Chowdhury
Justice means the maintenance or administration of what is just by law, as by judicial proceedings. Justice means awarding of what is due. If there is no justice, misrule and anarchy spread in a country.
While International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC) called ‘absurd’ the claim of investigators that women’s leader Kalpana Chakma herself was the key witness to her abduction and hence the probe cannot be completed until she is found, Dr. Iftikharuzzaman, a member of the commission said, “This type of logic is institutionalising the culture of impunity”. He feared, at one point, investigators of all abduction or forced disappearance cases would come up with similar arguments.
Deadline for latest investigation reset 22 times
Dr. Iftikharuzzaman, also executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), observed this while addressing the media people on the occasion of the 19th anniversary of Kalpana’s abduction at the Jatiya Press Club. Since Kalpana Chakma was abducted from her Baghaichari house in Rangamati on June 11, 1996, the case was reinvestigated several times. The deadline for submission of the latest investigation was reset 22 times since January 16, 2013.
Another member of CHTC, Sultana Kamal, said three investigation reports had been submitted to the court so far. After analyzing the reports, it becomes evident that the reports were essentially the same.” She also said the investigation reports were bound to have inconsistencies, as these were written without following the reality. “Many cases like the Kalpana Chakma abduction case have been under process for years. But this impunity and the culture devoid of justice encourage criminals to commit crimes repeatedly,” she added. This was reported in The Daily Star, dated June 9, 2015.
UNHRC urged by rights organizations
The paper reported on the same day that two rights organizations urged the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to play a leading role in initiating reform in criminal justice institutions of Bangladesh to address the problems of extra-judicial executions and help the judiciary uphold UN human rights standards. The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a Hong Kong-based sister organization of Asian Human Rights Commission, and Bangladesh rights body ‘Odhikar’ made the request through a written submission on June 8, 2015.
It said, “political and other parties started hiring law enforcement agencies” for their ‘skills’ to assassinate their rivals. And, now, the government uses extrajudicial executions against the opposition to weaken political rivals. It also said the prevailing culture of impunity, coupled with incapability of the criminal justice institutions failed to provide justice to the victim families, who also faced social stigma as law enforcement agencies branded their murdered relative as criminals.
The Daily Star in its editorial on the same day said, about 70 per cent of all complaints of violation of human rights received by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) are against law enforcers, and half of all these complaints are allegation of torture by members of the law enforcing agencies. These statistics, though perhaps representing only a fraction of the human rights violations taking place all over the country, are no doubt alarming.
128 extrajudicial killings in 2014
Many extrajudicial killings have happened. What is even more disquieting is that, despite the increasing number of allegations against law enforcers, in most cases, no action is taken against the perpetrator, thus facilitating a culture of impunity. According to human rights body, ‘Ain O Salish Kendra’, in 2014, as many as 128 people died in “crossfire” and “gunfight” between law enforcers and alleged “criminals”, 60 died from custodial torture, and another 88 were allegedly abducted by the security forces. The impunity enjoyed by our law enforcers makes a mockery of the rule of law, and creates a culture of fear and mistrust among the people, the editorial said.
Justice delayed, is justice denied. The culture of impunity should be stopped. Judges should be appointed in accordance with the need. The justice – seekers should not wait longer for justice.