7 Aug 2019

NFP calls for inquiry into Fiji's drug crisis

12:03 pm on 7 August 2019

Fiji's opposition is calling for an independent inquiry into the increasing number of drug-related crimes.

The deputy leader of the opposition in Fiji and NFP president Biman Prasad.

The deputy leader of the opposition in Fiji and NFP president Biman Prasad. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad said the investigation should not be designed to apportion blame.

He said information gathered from the inquiry could be used to formulate policies, programmes and laws.

Professor Prasad said Fiji should also work with its neighbours to address the illicit drug trade in the region.

"Unless we have an independent inquiry to hear from people at all levels, to see what is the extent of this menace right now in the country, we would not be able to effectively address this issue. And if we are not careful - if we don't get to the bottom of it - we could be the drug capital of the Pacific."

Biman Prasad said the opposition will make a motion for an inquiry when Parliament sits this week.

There was no way to "understand this menace better" than an independent inquiry, Professor Prasad said.

"How are these drugs coming into the country? Who are the users? What are the ways in which we need direct intervention, including rehabilitation of people who are using these very hard and difficult drugs that we never saw in this country," he said.

Professor Prasad said Fiji must work with other jurisdictions and have a collective effort at all levels to address the issue of the drug trade in the Pacific.

He also called on Australia and New Zealand to work with their neighbours to address drug addiction in the region.

"It's all right to talk about how we can stop the drug trade, but it is also important for us to put resources into areas where we can deal with people who are drug users and who have been affected by drugs and and how to rehabilitate some of them.

"I think Australia, New Zealand have sufficient and the well-developed experience and exposes and procedures to deal with the issue of rehabilitation," said Professor Prasad.

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