Economic - social - political aspects of illicit drug use in Kenya
Department of psychiatry, University of Nairobi
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The issues relating to illicit drug production, trafficking and consumption have been a subject of three major conventions of the United Nations (UN.): the U.N. (1961). Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs; later amended by the 1972 protocol, the UN. (1971) Convention on psychotropic substances and the UN. (1988) Convention' Against illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Pursuant to the resolutions adopted by these UN. conventions, most govemments of the UN. member states have already ratified them Kenya as a member state of the UN. has not only ratified these conventions but has already originated national legislation along these UN. resolutions. Hence the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (control) Act - 1994 was enacted by the Parliament of the Republic of Kenya and published. (Kenya Gazette Supplement No. 41 - 1994). It is already operational. This legislation details the regulations pertaining to the production, trafficking, possession and consumption of narcotic drugs, and psychotropic substances in Kenya. The penalties related to infractions to these regulations are also detailed, therein. To monitor the activities related to this act, the Kenya Government established "The Anti-Narcotics Unit" within the Criminal Investigations Department (C.LD) of the Kenya Police. It is this Unit which is charged, with the responsibility of enforcing this Parliamentary Act through aut Kenya and beyond. To this end, the services of the regular police an patrol, concerned parents, guardians, siblings, friends, peer members, schools, churches, health care units, club members, members of the general public and most importantly, the local Public Administration, have also played a major '-ale in the implementation of the provisions of this act. Most significant was the Appointment or an- Inter-Ministenal Drug--C::=oarainating-ConIDiittee"- with "The Solicitor - General" as the Chairman and with members drawn from most concerned Government Ministries and other stake holders in the drug issue. (The Kenya Gazette - Notice No. 4048 af26 July 1996). This committee is charged with the responsibility of defining, promoting and coordinating government Policy and activities far the control of drug abuse and drug trafficking along the three UN. conventions as well as updating and implementing the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, 1994. rile ame committee is also ell :sed with the responsibility of establishing a viabl data bank and analysis of dru abuse and trafficking at the national level. TIt committee has already establisl. .d a secretariat and plans to uold the first worksho are already at an advanced stage (Jackobam, 1997). At the international level, the U.N. has established the United Nations Intemation: Drug Control Programme (UNIDCP) and it's Global Regional Offices which gathe much of its data on illicit drugs supply and demand from Member States through th Annual Report Questionnaire (AR.Q). Though comprehensive, the ARQ' consistency, regularity and comprehensiveness of the Member State's responses var considerably from year to year. Hence significant data base gaps do exist. This i because most activities involving illicit drugs are clandestine hence data collection 0] these activities is not easy. Therefore, until efforts are increased to improve th: gathering and analysis of information on country level trends, understanding of th: complex dynamics of illicit drugs at the global level will be limiteci (World Drug Report, 1997). The drug phenomenon is unique in the way it affects peoples lives: health, politica, and economic development, crime level in the country and the stability oj governments. Hence in tackling the drug problem, it is essential first to understand its relationship with other issues affecting the societies. illicit drug abuse prevents individuals from realizing full personal potential with subsequent limitations of social development. The social and economic costs of illicit drug abuse places an intolerable strain on the social infrastru- ~'TI'e of a country. The illicit production-of dr os-diverts human and natural resources from more productive activities, and weakens the foundation for long-term economic growth. The power of international drug trafficking organizations threatens to corrupt and destabilize the institutions of government. The crime associated with drugs, much of it violent, makes a misery of many lives. (World Drug Report, 1997). It is in the light of the aforementioned that a study on the economic, social and political aspects of illicit drug use in Kenya was conducted ill October ] 997. This study was sponsored by the U.N.I.D. c.P. and conducted by the Department of Psychiatry; College of Health Sciences, University of Nairobi. The Department is therefore extremely pleased and honored to :fill some of the gaps that exist in the understanding and possible solutions to this problem Such gaps could only be :filled through community based quantitative research. We have not only described the problem but have also pointed the way forward, not only for Kenya, but also for the international community at large. This way forward is implied all along the report and in the various recommgadations=The Departmenr'has the necessary uman resources, expertise, experience and ready to help in the implementation of the various recommendations, including further research and developing training modules for training of trainers and trainees. The real credit for this work goes to my most dedicated, "team spirited" staff (and mends of this Department) who, with highly limited resources, work-ed long 'hours, used their own resources, sacrificed vacation and own free time to complete this study at the earliest possible date. This project took place during electioneering and general elections time in Kenya' and also during vacation time for the University hence the pressure for time for the project by everybody involved. I am very proud of them My veJY special thanks go to Dr. D.M. Kathuku, Dr. C. Otieno, Miss Victoria Mutiso and Miss Caroline Karicho.