United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem

21 Apr 2016

UNGASS Roundtable 2– Supply Reduction & related measures; responses to drug-related crime; and countering money-laundering and promoting judicial cooperation (“drugs and crime”)

 

20th April 2016

Singapore believes that supply reduction is an integral component in tackling the world drug problem. It forms one of the three pillars of international drug control policy and needs to be applied in an integrated and balanced manner, together with demand reduction and international cooperation strategies. In this regard, there are three key issues Singapore would like to share:

Prominent Role of Law Enforcement

  1. For Singapore, the role of law enforcement will always be an integral part in our fight against the scourge of drugs. We embrace a zero tolerance approach towards drugs, hence our strategy against drug trafficking is to detect and arrest all traffickers before they band together into large-scale and sophisticated players in the drug scene. We conduct rigorous drug enforcement, coupled with strong command, control and communication elements to increase operational effectiveness and minimise operational risks.
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  3. As a key transportation and financial hub with close proximity to the Golden Triangle, Singapore faces the danger of being exploited as a transit centre for traffickers. However, we have managed to keep the drug supply situation under control, largely attributing this success to our tough and vigorous enforcement in reducing the supply of drugs into our borders.
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    New Challenges

     

  5. Criminal syndicates will continue to find new ways and means to circumvent the criminal justice system. The links between drug trafficking to corruption and other forms of organized crime such as money laundering continue to pose serious challenges to our supply reduction efforts. Singapore has consistently reviewed our processes to ensure that we are doing whatever we can to counter these illicit activities. For example, to counter the lure of high profits from drug trafficking, we employ the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and other Serious Crimes Act to trace, freeze and confiscate assets of convicted drug traffickers. An Organised Crime Act was enacted in 2015 to further strengthen our efforts in disrupting and mitigating the impact of trans-national drug trafficking syndicates.
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  7. We read with concern from the World Drug Report of another year of increase in the detection of clandestine laboratories, making it imperative that we also stop the diversion of and trafficking in precursors chemicals, and now pre-precursors, which are used in the manufacture of ATS and New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). NPS have proliferated rapidly in the last few years and have posed as a serious challenge due to the difficulty in scheduling them. We need to enhance the capability of our law enforcement agencies to detect and identify these substances whilst working together to share information and promote cross-border cooperation.
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  9. We recognise that we are often one step behind in scheduling NPS due to the rapid pace that they are being created. Singapore has listed a number of NPS as controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) for short, both under the generic families of NPS and individual NPS listing. MDA also allows the temporary listing of NPS for 12 months under the Fifth Schedule, with the possibility of extension by another 12 months. This would allow us to seize these NPS whilst research and industry consultations take place before a decision is made on the permanent listing of NPS. After the 12 months, the NPS that are temporarily listed would be considered for re-classification as controlled drugs under the MDA.
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  11. NPS and the challenges mentioned are global challenges. We are in this together. Hence we need to step up our regional and international cooperation, especially with regards to information sharing. My delegation is pleased to see substantive recommendations on increasing cross border cooperation in the outcome document and we will continue to play our part in the regional and international arena. I would also like to commend and thank the UNODC for their initiatives such as the Global SMART and Container Control programme which have been integral in the fight against illicit trafficking.
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  13. In conclusion, we strongly support the three international drug conventions as the cornerstone for all drug control policies as they provide the flexibility for states to address their specific needs, whilst complying with the principle of common and shared responsibility. We would also like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to meeting the targets set in the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action, in addition to the operational recommendations contained in the outcome document.

 

UNGASS Roundtable 4 – Cross-cutting issues: new challenges, threats and realities in preventing and addressing the world drug problem in compliance with relevant international law, including the three drug control conventions; strengthening the principle of common and shared responsibility and international cooperation

 

21st April 2016

 

The drug situation is constantly evolving. Criminal syndicates will persistently look for ways to evade laws in their endeavours to traffic illicit drugs. In recent years, we have all faced the challenge of rapid proliferation of new psychoactive substances and the increasing sales of illicit drugs online.

New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)

 

  1. Many of the NPS are still not controlled under the international drug control conventions, and their legal statuses differ widely from country to country. Little is known about the adverse health effects and long term harms of NPS, and this pose considerable challenges for prevention and treatment.
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  3. In Singapore, we realized that the traditional way of listing harmful substances was unable to address the rapid proliferation of a large number of NPS varieties. A more responsive approach was needed, and in 2013, amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act were made. A new Fifth Schedule was introduced to provide for temporary listing of NPS.
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  5. The Fifth Schedule was enacted to allow us to list NPS quickly for a period of one year. It provided us with a mechanism to take action against substances which have just appeared in our drug scene but which we have little information about. Once listed, we are empowered to seize the substances to prevent their circulation. During the period the substances are temporarily listed in the Fifth Schedule, research and industrial consultations are undertaken to determine the possible legitimate uses for these NPS as part of the due process before the decision is taken to permanently list them as controlled drugs.
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  7. Besides the Fifth Schedule, we have also adopted the generic listing system to deal with the large numbers of closely related NPS. After a year, all temporarily listed NPS will be classified as Class A controlled drugs if no legitimate use was found. This approach has helped us to efficiently control the NPS before its abuse spreads in society.
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  9. Currently, we have listed 10 generic groups of substances and 54 individual substances through this process. We consistently keep abreast of the NPS abuse situation and update the fifth schedule regularly.
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  11. My delegation would like to take this opportunity to thank the UNODC specifically the Global SMART programme whose Early Warning System has played an integral role in highlighting the emergence of the various NPS and in providing a platform for countries to share data and information.
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  13. Singapore will continue to closely monitor international development and improve our NPS detection capabilities and strengthen our NPS framework.
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    Misuse of the Internet

     

  15. Technological advancements on the Internet have enabled the local drug trade to take on a transnational form. In Singapore, we have seen cases of internet-ordered NPS being transported in mail parcels. Due to the furtive nature of such online black markets, it poses a challenge for law enforcement to operationally track individuals who are leveraging on this platform to buy or sell drugs in this manner.
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  17. Taking into account the large volume of parcels coming through our borders each day, the lack of information on the packaging or originating source country of these drugs would make them more difficult to track. The wider implication of such online black markets is that there could possibly be a subset of abusers who are buying drugs in this manner, and go undetected; hence making the rise of these drugs more difficult to track.
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  19. Singapore adopts a balanced approach to tackle the challenges of Internet-based drug activities and the associate problem of drugs entering Singapore via this method. We have continuously aimed to develop upstream intelligence whilst simultaneously pursuing downstream enforcement. We build partnerships and capabilities of regulatory authorities such as the Health Sciences Authority and the postal and courier services.
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  21. My delegation is pleased that the outcome document addresses these concerns, especially with the recommendations on enhancing information sharing amongst member states and developing capabilities to preserve and investigate electronic evidence related to illicit drug trafficking.
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    International Cooperation

     

  23. It is our obligation to our citizens to rise and meet these challenges in the most effective manner, which includes cooperation at regional and international levels. Collectively, we can better monitor developments, share information and best practices with one another. Singapore looks forward to working with the UNODC and member states in this regard.
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  25. In countering the drug scourge, we will continuously be faced with new threats and challenges. However, we believe strongly that any new threats and challenges can be addressed within the parameters of the international conventions. We would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to meeting the targets set in the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action, in addition to the operational recommendations contained in the outcome document. Thank you.

Last updated: 6 Jul 2017