Activists blame police corruption for rise in drug use among young people in Mon State

March 20, 2018

HURFOM: Police corruption and inaction is fueling the drug trade in Mon State, according to activists from Ye Township. They argue this has led to increasing drug use among young people, particularly teenagers and students.

“The police are weak in terms of drug control, and by weak I mean that the police are also [corrupt and] involved in the drug trade,” said an activist from Ye Social Society (YSS).

Rumors of police corruption in the drug trade are fed by stories of close interaction between police officers and drug dealers, and the impunity with which many of the latter seem to operate.

“The villagers often see police going to a [known] drug dealer’s house. We think maybe it is to arrest them or do something [else]. But they never arrest them. We should find out why drug dealers are never arrested. When an arrest is made, the real drug dealer isn’t caught; it’s only his or her relative that is arrested. We don’t know why. The big fish always escapes. Just small-time dealers and users are caught,” said a resident of Ka Loh Toh village, Mudon Township.

It’s not just police who activists say are not doing enough to curb the sale of drugs in villages. Activists report village administrators, although aware of drug dealers in their communities, are hesitant to arrest individuals in their communities with which they have a personal connection.

“Even though police officials and village administrators have the power [to arrest drug dealers] in accordance with the law, they can’t separate their duty from their personal issues,” continued the activist from YSS.

Locals report that the widespread use of illicit drugs has led to a waning interest in the pursuit of an education among young people, and more criminal and mental health problems in their communities. More needs to be done they say, and not just by police.

“Even though the police hold the primary responsibility for the spread of drugs [in our communities], parents should also control their children. They should closely monitor them,” continued the Ka Loh Toh villager.

In December 2017, it was announced a new committee would be formed to combat drug use in Ye Township through advocating for drug treatment and educational programs. However, some locals have dismissed their efforts, arguing it would be much more effective if instead police arrested large-scale drug traffickers and took them to court.

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