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Minister for Police calls for national cooperation to combat drugs

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 14/12/2018

The Minister of Police has called for national cooperation with the public to address the issue on illicit drugs in Tonga as many youths are facing the consequences. Mateni Tapueluelu made this statement during an exclusive interview with Radio and TV Tonga yesterday afternoon.

The Minister of Police – Hon. Mateni Tapueluelu says, it is evident illicit drugs is a major issue in Tonga and this has been ongoing since the previous years. HOWEVER today, the impacts of drugs are on the rise as has been reported by foreign media.

Tapueluelu said, one of his top priorities is ensuring that Police officers are not involved with drugs although he admits they have arrested officers for being involved with dealing drugs.

Tapueluelu says for government, the issue of addressing drugs remains on the table but he believes it is for national collaboration with all related stakeholders including Church leaders, communities and non-government organizations – by simply providing any information that could help with their daily operations and investigations.

Police have received reports of church ministers cultivating marijuana, not for consumption but for commercial purposes to fund their obligations to the family, society, and church.

Tapueluelu says the Police’s Special Drugs Taskforce have completed over 100 operations related to illicit drugs, making multiple charges.

Despite the challenges with a lack of appropriate resources and funds the minister says the team is doing their best to stop the distribution of drugs in the country.

Tapueluelu believes the main reason people are involved in dealing drugs is the finance, as they make a lot of money from drugs compared to their annual wages.

He also says there are government officials involved with dealing drugs, making police officers work even harder.

The Minister also criticised a foreign media’s dubbing of Tonga as the Kingdom of Ice saying this is a misleading phrase because government is doing everything they can to fight the rise of drug-related issues in the country.

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