Drug and addiction are two major plagues taking over our little paradise. As a responsible press group, Radio Plus, Télé Plus and Le Défi Media Group dedicated a whole Thursday to national awareness on drug and addiction. After three months of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on drugs chaired by former judge Paul Lam Shang Leen, it is time to look for concrete answers on how to stop this scourge. Nawaz Noorbux, director of information for Radio Plus and Jean-Luc Émile, editor at Radio Plus, provide insight on this issue.
From 9:00 till 16:00, the Radio Plus aerial was opened to the public. A special platform was set up in the Parking of Radio Plus at Labourdonnais Street, Port Louis. Some stakeholders such as social workers, rectors, Parent Teachers’ Associations, politicians, authorities and members of the public testified and proposed concrete solutions to fight this scourge.
Nawaz Noorbux states that drugs have become a real scourge and he is mainly concerned about cases of synthetic drugs in schools. “No one is safe. We do not claim to be able to solve the problem, but we want to make our own small contribution. We hope to find valid proposals.”
Among the speakers, the Minister of Education, Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, announced the introduction of a school curriculum in January 2019 in schools to sensitize young people on the problems related to drugs. The leader of the opposition, Xavier-Luc Duval, has pleaded for a “U-Turn” on the policy of ‘gandia’. He also commented on the legalization of cannabis in Canada and many other countries. For him, Mauritius must make a choice.
Legalizing cannabis would give a very bad sign, says MSM deputy Dr. Zouberr Joomaye. MP Arvin Boolell, for his part, has appealed to the Prime Minister for the establishment of a National Drug Commission which, according to him, will have to act in full transparency.
Sam Lauthan, one of the assessors of the Commission of Inquiry on Drugs, is for the setting up of a national observatory on drugs. He explains that drugs presented in the form of Crystal or in liquid make detection difficult for authorities. According to him, even the authorities are overwhelmed by the new drugs. With the proliferation of the synthetic drug, Sam Lauthan advocates for prevention and argues that a national observatory is more than essential. Chief Inspector Naushad Maudhoo of the Drug Squad has admitted a lack of staff in this unit.
On the same day, a documentary entitled “Stop: Maurice au bord de l’overdose (Stop: Mauritius on the verge of overdose) was launched by the editorial teams. The documentary lasts for 52 minutes and can be viewed on the website www.defimedia.info.
This documentary required a full month of work. The team traveled across the island day and night to meet social workers, drug users, traffickers, family members of the victims and authorities. The work also looks at the problem of drugs in schools. “We were shocked and moved while we collected the testimonies. We consulted the authorities who made the report. They confided to us about their concerns,” concludes Jean-Luc Émile.