PIFS to work with Tonga Government to address drug problem

A team from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat conducted consultations with related stakeholders in Tonga to address the national issue of drugs – methamphetamine in particular.

During a press conference, Alfred Soakai the Political Issues Adviser at the Forum Secretariat said, they received a request from the government to assist them in trying to tackle this issue.

At the opening of the consultation last week, Minister for Police, Fire Services and Revenue and Customs, Mateni Tapueluelu said, “The purpose of the National Illicit Drugs Strategy is to identify gaps, capacity issues and integration opportunities in the areas of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, enforcement and underpinned by an objective of reducing the harms associated with illicit drugs.”

He stated that the impact of illicit drugs is widespread and extreme and it is not only a “police problem but rather a “social problem” which highlights the call for cooperation and coordination.

“It stresses the importance of collaboration between government, non-government agencies, the private sector and the community. It is a war that not one ministry can win, nor the government alone. It calls for the country to join together in a coordinated effort to address the issues of illicit drugs in our country and region.”

While in Nuku’alofa the team conducted consultations with related stakeholders including the Ministries of Police, Justice, Prison, Health, Foreign Affairs, Customs, Church Leaders, youth groups and Civil society organisations.

TBC reports after the consultations the team will draft a national policy for Tonga on methamphetamine and report back to Government suggesting a way forward for Tonga.