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Vietnam Coast Guard enhances the combat and prevention of drug-related crime

Drug-related crime prevention and control is an important task of the Vietnam Coast Guard. Fully aware of that, the Party Committee and Commanders of the Department of Professional Affairs and Law have been synchronously and drastically implementing solutions to improve the quality of drug-related crime prevention and control to contribute to ensuring security and safety in Vietnam’s seas.

Drug is now a global problem, and drug-related crimes have become one of the challenges and threats to security in most countries and territories. Due to globalisation, economic integration, and expansion of international trade, over the past time, there have been a number of organised, transnational, foreigner-involved, and drug-related crimes which are operating in Vietnam with increasingly sophisticated and cunning tricks. In addition, as the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic has caused airway and roadway transportation to be limited, blockaded, and controlled, drug criminals’ taking advantage of the maritime transport to trade, illegally transport drugs into Vietnam or transit to third countries for consumption tends to increase. Moreover, as the production and processing of synthetic drugs is quite easy, while the profits from drug trafficking are very high (over 300%), drug-related crimes are complicated and difficult to control. There have been a number of cases with particularly serious consequences that have created psychological insecurity in the community and adversely affected social life.

It is forecasted that, in the coming time, drug-related crimes on seas will continue to be complicated and tend to increase in both scale and severity, especially transnational and foreigner-involved cases. To overcome the above limitations and further improve the effectiveness of drug-related crime prevention and control, the Department of Professional Affairs and Law should play a pivotal and specialised role in coordinating with other forces in advising and proposing to the Coast Guard Party Committee and High Command to well implement the following solutions:

Firstly, to propagate and mobilize cadres, party members, and people to raise awareness and sense of responsibility in drug-related crime prevention and control. Accordingly, the Coast Guard’s drug task force should continue closely coordinating with local Party committees, authorities, departments, branches, and mass organisations in promoting propagation and mobilisation of officials, party members, and the masses to grasp and effectively implement programs, plans, and projects on drug-related crime prevention and control. Attention should be paid to education work to make the youth stay away from drugs and drug-related evils. The contents of propagation and education should be comprehensive, clear, and specific, but there should be focuses, especially practical issues directly related to drugs and drug crimes and provisions on illegally trafficking, transporting, storing, and consuming drugs in the Vietnam Criminal Code, Drug Prevention and Control Law, Directive No.21-CT/TW issued on March 26th, 2008 by the Politburo, Decision No.133/2002/QĐ-TTg issued on October 9th, 2002 and Decision No.52/2011/QĐ-TTg issued on September 21st, 2011 by the Prime Minister, etc. The forms and measures of propagation and mobilisation should be diversified to suit the characteristics of the target audiences and geographical areas, especially coastal and key areas with complex drug-related activities, ship docking areas, and seaports. The propagation and mobilisation should be integrated with the implementation of programs and movements entitled “We love the Homeland's seas and islands”, “The Coast Guard accompanies the fishermen”, “All people participate in protecting the national security”, etc.

Secondly, to synchronously implement professional measures in drug crime prevention and control. For the prevention and control of drug-related crime to be effective, the Coast Guard’s drug task force, based on the actual situation, should synchronously deploy professional measures, including: formulating programs and plans, and conducting reconnaissance to firmly grasp the locations, tricks, and operation rules of criminals at sea; reviewing and listing objects with criminal records for management and monitoring, especially those of drug-related suspicions; developing plans to fight against drug crimes on the seas, etc. It is necessary to select and develop agents and core forces in fighting, preventing, and controlling drug crimes and drug-related evils; together with the Police and the People's Procuracy at all levels, establish special projects, determine initial investigation measures, and develop case records to ensure strict, consistent, correct procedures and principles, etc. Regularly coordinate with the Police and the Border Guard in organising training courses to improve professional skills and qualifications for the drug task force.

Thirdly, to improve the efficiency of coordination with relevant forces in drug-related crime prevention and control. This is a solution to create and promote the synergy of all sectors and forces in drug-related crime prevention and control and assurance of security and safety in Vietnam's seas. Based on the functions and tasks of each department and operating characteristics drug criminals, the Coast Guard should take the initiative in developing plans and strictly and scientifically coordinating with other components, forces, agencies, units, and localities, especially the Public Security, Border Guard, Navy, Customs, Fisheries Surveillance, etc. in each specific situation, plan, and project; timely exchange and share information, develop programs and plans for crime prevention and combat, establish special projects to fight against inter-provincial and transnational drug trafficking and transportation networks and cartels, and unify forms, measures, and actions of each department in each situation, even during the complicated development of the Covid-19 pandemic; strengthen patrolling, inspection, control, and supervision of suspect vessels, boats, and individuals related to drug crimes on the seas, particularly fishing boats carrying foreign signs, foreign ships operating in Vietnam's waters, international cargo ships, etc; and direct agencies, units, and regions to coordinate with specialised forces and functional agencies in launching peak waves of attacks and suppression of drug-related crimes, focusing on holidays, Tet, and the time of great political events of the country.

Finally, to strictly implement international commitments, agreements, treaties, and memorandums of understanding on cooperation in drug-related crime prevention and control signed with other countries and territories. This is an important solution to create a wide legal corridor both domestically and internationally for the Vietnam Coast Guard's drug task force to complete its tasks. The VCG’s foreign affairs department should coordinate with the Department of Professional Affairs and Law in advising the Coast Guard Party Committee and High Command to regularly inspect and review the signed contents, targets, plans, and programs for leading and directing agencies and units to implement. Importance should be attached to exchanging and sharing information and experiences in drug-related crime prevention and control, maritime joint patrols, handling of incidents, etc. It is necessary to closely coordinate with specialised forces operating at sea of other countries in organising the investigation, verification, arrest, and handling of those who commit illegal acts as prescribed by laws,  Vietnam Maritime Law, international laws, commitments, agreements, and memorandums of understanding to avoid adversely affecting diplomatic relations between Vietnam and other countries. At the same time, it should continue studying and advising to sign treaties and agreements, especially treaties on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with other countries, territories, and international organisations, to create a firm legal corridor for drug crime prevention and control at sea.

The above solutions shape an important basis to ensure the Coast Guard well complete the task of drug-related crime prevention and control to contribute to maintaining security, order, and safety at sea and deserving to be a direct and courageous force on the front line of the fight against crimes at sea in general and drug crimes in particular.

Senior Colonel, MSc. LUONG DINH HUNG, Director of the Department of Professional Affairs and Law

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