The Presidential Task Force on Drug Prevention said that they were presently ironing out issues they anticipated would arise as a result of the large scale round-up of drug users in the greater Colombo area expected to be conducted by end November.
Director of the Task Force, Dr. Samantha Kumara Kithalawaarachchi said that they were expecting human rights related issues to arise from the arrest of 5,000 to 6,000 users or addicts of heroin and cannabis sativa and were currently negotiating the best strategy to tackle the scenario.
He said that they were engaged in mobilizing communities on drug prevention and adding that while they had conducted such an exercise through Government Agents, Divisional Secretariats and at the village level, they had most recently had a programme in Elahera for tobacco cultivators in Polonnaruwa.
We are conducting programmes for 29,000 students who gained university entrance this year to build leaders with regard to drug prevention, he pointed out.
There are an estimated 45,000 drug addicts in the country and curbing them is the only effective way to eradicate this bane according to Kithalawaarachchi.
“There is homework to be done at the ground level on making arrangements for such, which we are presently engaged in. This is on a mass scale. We do not know how they will react when they are apprehended. The drug users who will be netted would be produced before a doctor who would decide whether they are addicts and then to a magistrate who will decide on sending the person to a rehabilitation camp. Drug dealers may also retaliate, sometimes even against users,” he explained.