Turkish government outlines anti-drugs action plan

Turkish government outlines anti-drugs action plan

Turkish government outlines anti-drugs action plan

A group of people in Istanbul protest the spreading of ‘Bonzai,’ a cheap synthetic drug that has claimed a number of young victims in Turkey recently. DHA Photo

Turkey’s authorities have launched a new plan of action against the spread of drugs such as the synthetic “bonzai.” 

According to the plan, minors will be obliged to go into rehabilitation if they are found using drugs, while the capacities of rehabilitation centers will also be increased. Shanty house neighborhoods with a high density of drug use will also be prioritized in “urban transformation” projects to counter the spread.

The Interior Ministry, the Youth and Sports Ministry, the Family and Social Policies Ministry, the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry will co-operate to execute the plan, and each ministry will have a subdivision of experts to follow the execution.

The forming of the plan follows the alarming recent spread of “bonzai,” a cheap synthetic drug that has resulted in many addiction issues among youths and also claimed a number of victims.

According to the plan, drug users under the age of 18 will be obliged to undergo rehabilitation, after which they will be monitored by the police, who will also be in contact with the parents of these children.

Schools will also be more closely monitored, with school councils, parent-teacher associations and the police cooperating more systematically. In addition, identity and criminal record checks for suspicious people spotted around school districts will also be stepped up.

New laws on the way

New laws are also set to be passed that will penalize the user as well as the dealer. The penalties given for crimes involving “bonzai” and marijuana will be increased to the level of cocaine and heroin.

In addition, the police will be educated about different forms of bonzai, which first hit the streets in 2011, and police narcotics departments will be charged with informing citizens about the side-effects of these drugs. 

The new action plan has been prepared in line with a recent report published by the General Directorate of Security (EGM), which focused on the importance of “urban transformation” in areas with high rates of drug trafficking.

“In spite of all the interventions, we have not been able to prevent drug use and drug trafficking. The police forces by themselves are not sufficient. Despite all the attempts to eradicate drugs, unemployed people and children are still being abused and lured into drug trafficking operations in [shanty town] districts. Considering how urban transformation led to drops in crime rates, we note the importance of urban transformation,” the report stated.