22 Sep 2003

Samoa PM launches anti-drugs campaign

5:00 pm on 22 September 2003

Samoa's Prime Minister has compared drug dealers to murderers at the launch of a campaign against the use of illegal substances.

Tuilaepa Sailele said a child who used drugs was like a person who had died - he says they were of no more use.

He said this meant that dealers were in effect responsible for taking them from their families.

Samoa's Chief Justice has described the level of marijuana use in the country as at being at epidemic levels.

The Supreme Court has a policy of imposing jail sentences on nearly all offenders, but numbers are still increasing.

Samoa has also seen the appearance of a version of the drug methamphetamine, known as ice.

The Commissioner of Police, Papalii Lorenese Neru, said the seriousness of the drug problem had not been acknowledged in the community.

The Prime Minister says he is considering setting up a task force to help police combat illegal drugs.