The director general of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) yesterday sought authority from the government to conduct random drug testing on persons who it suspects of drug abuse.
“Please give us authority to go for random drug tests to eradicate drug abuse from the society,” Benazir Ahmed, the Rab chief, said while addressing a workshop at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the capital.
The Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) arranged the programme titled “Implementation of Action Plan to Counter the Aggression of Drug Abuse”. Officials from 16 ministries and agencies joined the workshop to implement the action plan, which the DNC formulated aiming to work jointly with all law enforcement, paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies to eradicate the country's narcotics problem.
The action plan will be implemented in short-term (one year), mid-term (two years) and long-term (five years) phases.
Home Secretary (Protection Service Division) Farid Uddin Ahmed, who was present as chief guest at the workshop, said the plan was sent to the prime minister's office first, and has been approved from there.
The workshop was held to hand over tasks to different officials, and discuss on it.
In reply to the Rab DG's proposal, the home secretary said the new narcotics law is on the cards, and they will try to include random tests in the draft of the law.
One of the points in the action plan is drug tests for all government and non-government jobs. The secretary said they are also thinking of implementing drug tests during admission at different educational institutes.
The Rab DG also proposed setting up of special courts in all 64 districts with retired judges and government officials, to dispose of drug-related cases and ensure judgement of the accused who have already been arrested in connection with drug cases. About appointing retired judges, he said it would be a time-consuming matter if they want to appoint new magistrates.
The government should establish an isolated jail where all prisoners of drug-related cases will be kept so that they can be rehabilitated easily after release, he further proposed. The Rab chief suggested finding out an island in Bay of Bengal or a vacant place for establishing the jail.
There is a capacity to keep 36,614 prisoners in 68 jails across the country, but currently there are nearly 90,000 inmates in the jails. Of them, 44 percent are drug-related prisoners, Farid Uddin said while addressing the workshop.
The nationwide anti-narcotics drive will continue, the secretary added.
DNC Director General Jamal Uddin Ahmed presided over the workshop. He said they have arrested around 13,000 people in 12,000 narcotics cases in last one year. “We are running our activities with a limited manpower but trying to improve our operation everyday by implementing different initiatives,” he said.
The home secretary said a proposal has been sent to increase the manpower of DNC from its current 650 to 6,700, and expressed hopes that it will be approved soon.