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Drug crime on the rise as pandemic continues: official



Major General Nguyen Van Vien, director of the Drug-related Crime Investigation Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security, talks to the Vietnam Government Portal about the drug-related crime situation 

 and measures to mobilise resources to combat drug crimes.

Drug crime on the rise as pandemic continues: official
Major General Nguyen Van Vien, director of the Drug-related Crime Investigation Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security.  VNA/VNS Photo Doan Tan

In 2020, the drug-related crime investigation police force directly conducted or co-ordinated with other authorities to investigate 24,548 drug-related criminal cases, arrested 36,404 drug offenders and seized more than 738kg of heroin, 3.4 tonnes and more than 2 million synthetic drug tablets, and about 255kg of marijuana. It saw year-on-year increases of 12.85 per cent in the number of cases and 9.15 per cent in the number of criminals.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected economic, political-diplomatic, cultural and social aspects of countries all over the world, including Vietnam, drug crimes have increased. 

The authorities have cracked down on maritime drug trafficking cases, notably one led by a former South Korean police officer in July 2020. Could you elaborate on this?

There have been complex developments in maritime drug trafficking crimes. This is a route that has been used by international drug criminals to transport a very large amount of drugs.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has suspended some international air routes and road routes are also under tighter controls against COVID-19, drug trafficking at sea is becoming more complex.

Drug traffickers have constantly changed the way they work. They are led by Chinese Taiwanese or African citizens under the management of international drug crime organisations, which work with those from the drug hotspots like the Golden Triangle to establish the drug trafficking rings and transport drugs to Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia.

The ringleaders are not involved directly in transporting the drugs. They manage and assign jobs into different steps to avoid being detected by the authorities. They establish import and export companies and rent warehouses in provinces in the central and southern regions of Vietnam to gather drugs, which are hidden in normal goods like electronic equipment. They then consign the goods for other logistics companies to conduct procedures to ship drugs to other countries. Therefore, it is difficult to expand the investigation and arrest the ringleaders who are foreigners.

To prevent maritime drug crimes, we are promoting communications so businesses and local people are better aware of how drug-related crimes work are more cautious and report criminals to the authorities.

We work with other forces like customs, border and coast guard to investigate and handle the crimes. We also work with the authorities of other countries in the region to share information and together handle criminal cases when needed. 

The illicit use of drugs in bars, karaoke parlours and hotels seems to be on the rise. Is there any fundamental solution to prevent this?

In recent years, the illicit use of drugs, especially synthetic drugs, in bars, hostels and hotels has been complicated.

We have difficulties in preventing this, especially when the Penal Code removed Article 199, recognising narcotic users as patients, not criminals, making it challenging to manage, prevent and deter drug users.

In addition, drug users often rent luxury apartments or resort with good sound insulation. Landlords don’t seem to care what tenants use their properties for and the tenants often use drugs in these rooms with layers of locked doors, making it difficult to detect and catch them red-handed.

Meanwhile, there are still overlaps in some legal documents related to this issue, which are also inconsistent with reality. The sanctions imposed on property owners where the violation occurs are still too lax to deter violations.

To prevent the illicit use of drugs, the Drug-related Investigation Police Department is working on a report to the Ministry of Public Security to propose the approval of the amended Drug Prevention and Control Law, which suggests additional charges for the illegal use of drugs. At the same time, it also works with competent authorities to handle difficulties in managing and treating drug addicts.

Communication work on the impacts of drugs needs also to be promoted. It is also essential to get a grip on the situation and promptly detect and handle drug hotspots.

It is crucial to assess the responsibilities of organisations or individuals, especially leaders in places where crime and drug evils take place in a complex, rampant and prolonged way that causes insecurity for local people. 

We have witnessed the great sacrifices of police forces in combating drug crimes yet there are also some police officers who have been arrested and prosecuted for involvement in drug crimes or having their People’s Police titles stripped due to their illegal use of drugs. What are the implications of these incidents?

The drug-related crime investigation police force works in a tough and challenging environment, their battlefield is often the dangerous mountainous areas. Drug criminals are becoming more audacious and fight fiercely when they are detected. Therefore, bloodshed and the sacrifice offered during peacetime by this force is heavier than any other forces. As many as 26 officials, officers and people have died in this combat.

Recently, however, there are some police officers who have tolerated, protected, covered up crimes and colluded with drug offenders. This not only enables the crimes but also erodes the trust of the people and adversely impacts the reputation and prestige of the people’s police force as a whole. These individuals will be punished strictly in accordance with the law.

To build a transparent and valiant drug investigation police force who are willing to face challenges, accept to sacrifice, have a strong will and do not fall into the bribery and manipulation of criminals, I think political and ideological education is crucial. The officers need to follow the six teachings that late President Ho Chi Minh has given the police force, considering this as the most important element in the process of building the police force.

In addition, it is also necessary to keep tabs on the cadres and officers to promptly detect and handle violations while giving praise to groups or individuals who have made excellent achievements in drug crime prevention and control. 

What should we do to mobilise the resources and the strength of the whole political system and people to prevent drug-related crimes?

Promoting the strength of the whole political system and entire people in drug crime prevention and combat is one of the goals and tasks specified by the Politburo in Directive No 36-CT/TW on August 16, 2019, on enhancing the effectiveness of drug control work.

Especially amid the complex developments of drug crimes, we consider this the foundation to help to prevent and harness the development of drug crimes and evils in Vietnam.

To achieve this, firstly, the authorities need to closely implement Directive No 36, direct and inspect the implementation of drug crime prevention and control in organisations and agencies. This shouldn’t be considered as the task of the public security sector alone.

In addition, it is essential to enhance communication work, disseminate information on the law, and raise the awareness and responsibility of people in drug-related crime prevention and control. We need to diversify content and forms of communication in accordance with localities, regions and subjects, especially pupils, students, workers and people from ethnic minority groups.

Sharing experience and successful models and praising those with excellent achievements in drug prevention and control are also important.

We also need to continue to enhance the capacities and virtues of public security forces, gain trust from the people and receive support from them in ensuring public security in general and controlling drug crimes in specific. VNS



Compulsory COVID-19 related insurance a must for inbound, outbound travellers: experts



Tourists row boats at Tiên Định agro-ecological tourist area at Phú Thuận A Commune in Đồng Tháp Province’s Hồng Ngự District. VNA/ Photo Chương Đài

HÀ NỘI – Travel firms and tourism experts have suggested making COVID-19 insurance compulsory for all inbound and outbound travellers as one of the key requirements to welcome foreigners back to Việt Nam.

In a letter sent to then Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc proposing the Government to open the market in a safe and sustainable manner, the Tourism Advisory Council (TAB) stated there should be a roadmap. Accordingly, it is necessary to have policies requiring COVID-19 ‘vaccine passports’ and testing tourists before flights and after arrival at tourist sites. Travel insurance, including medical insurance related to COVID-19, should be compulsory for all foreigners coming to Việt Nam and Vietnamese tourists travelling abroad.

Võ Anh Tài, vice chairman of TAB and deputy director general of Saigontourist Group, said COVID-19-related insurance would ensure benefits and safety for both travellers, travel firms and local authorities in case of tour delays or cancellations.

The TAB suggested the Government and the Ministry of Finance to allow insurance companies in Việt Nam to sell COVID-19 travel insurance products.

“Medical insurance programmes related to COVID-19 have been offered in some countries. It helps cover expenses on hospitalisation, examinations, treatment and medical care, and medical evacuation and repatriation,” Tài told Người lao động (The Labourer) newspaper.

He also said travel insurance can offset the cost if the trip is affected by the pandemic.

Hoàng Nhân Chính, Secretary General of TAB, said that the Law on Tourism required travel companies to buy insurance for tourists during the tours unless they already had insurance for the entire travel period. This insurance is paid to visitors when there are emergencies including illness and accident. However, he said, the tourism industry still did not have COVID-19 insurance, especially in the context of Việt Nam considering opening the market to foreign visitors.

“COVID-19 related insurance will prove effective for visitors when they travel to a tourist destination that requires testing as they can pay first, then request the insurance agency to reimburse the cost,” he said.

In case the visitor was quarantined when travelling to a certain area due to an outbreak, the expense during the quarantine period was also covered by insurance, Chính added.

Tourism is a key economic sector in Việt Nam, contributing more than 10 per cent of the country’s GDP and generated over US$30 billion in annual revenue.

Results of a recent survey of Vietnamese tourists conducted by TAB about the willingness of tourists to purchase additional travel insurance packages during the high-risk disease period showed that 52 per cent of respondents answered ‘Yes’. This reflected that they have a demand to purchase a COVID-19 insurance package.

Many businesses also believe that COVID-19-related insurance products are necessary as the tourism industry is implementing a roadmap to reopen to international visitors.

In fact, a few travel companies have been working with the insurance company to extend their terms of support to visitors in case of an unfortunate infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus while on tour and within 14 days after the tour ends.

The Vietnam Travel and Marketing Transport Joint-stock Company (Vietravel) is an example. There is a provision on COVID-19 in the travel insurance policy for  the company’s customers to enhance the interests of customers, said Huỳnh Phan Phượng Hoàng, Deputy General Director of Vietravel. 

She said that the most important thing right now was the policy that allowed travel companies to coordinate with insurance companies to deploy COVID-19 insurance products as in other countries.

“A ‘vaccine passport’, a certificate showing a person is negative for COVID-19 at the time of departure and COVID-19-related insurance are prerequisites for welcoming back foreign visitors and rapidly reviving the tourism industry,” Hoàng said.

At the Government’s regular press conference held in late March, former Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tiến Dũng said that some key tasks are to speed up research, development and testing of vaccines, as well as developing a plan to import vaccines for large-scale vaccination.

Early research and rolling out of a ‘vaccine passport’ mechanism to promote trade and investment should be a priority.

At the latest meeting of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, the Ministry of Health submitted initial proposals on the implementation of the ‘vaccine passport’, including the applicable target group, plan for monitoring, isolating, and medical monitoring.

According to experts, with mass vaccination programmes taking place in many countries, a number of countries have developed plans to open their markets to facilitate the travel of entrepreneurs, experts and tourists.

The Vietnamese Government and competent agencies should consider opening the market in a safe and sustainable manner in order not to lag behind. 

Besides the COVID-19 vaccination programmes, many tourist businesses also proposed a more open visa policy to gain a competitive advantage in the region. For example, the proposed 30-day visa exemption policy should continue to be applied to existing countries that are exempt. Australia, New Zealand and remaining countries in Europe should also be included.


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Trà Vinh expands forest coverage



Mangrove forest in Trà Vinh Province. – VNA/ Photo

TRÀ VINH – The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Trà Vinh plans to grow new forests from now to 2025, increasing the province’s total forest area to 10,000ha and reaching a forest coverage rate of 4.2 per cent.

To meet the targets, the province is providing funds to individuals, households and organisations responsible for growing new mangrove forests and protecting existing forests.

Individuals, households and organisations who grow new forests on an area of more than 0.3ha will receive no more than VNĐ37 million (US$1,600) per hectare to buy seedlings.

This is 4.5 times more than the financial assistance given previously.

Individuals and households responsible for protecting forests will be given VNĐ500,000 ($21) per hectare a year. The money will be provided for up to 15ha to individuals and 30ha to households.

Phạm Minh Truyền, director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the support policies aim to protect the environment and protect against the impact of high tides, rising sea levels, and erosion along the province’s 65km coastline.

These support activities have helped to create livelihoods for households, especially shrimp – forest farms, that have provided sustainable incomes in coastal areas.

The province has more than 9,160ha of forests, mostly mangrove forests, and a forest coverage rate of 3.63 per cent, according to the department.

Of the total forest area, more than 4,000ha are planted by households in the coastal districts of Duyên Hải, Cầu Ngang, Châu Thành, and Duyên Hải Town.

The households also breed black-tiger shrimp or other aquatic species in the 4,000ha of mangrove forests.  

The shrimp – forest farming model requires low investment cost, has a low risk of disease, is environmentally friendly, and is sustainably efficient.

Households that breed shrimp or other aquatic species in mangrove forests earn an average income of VNĐ70 million ($3,000) per hectare a year, according to the department.

Last year, the province turned nearly 3,800ha of protective forests into commercial forests to improve incomes for households who protect and exploit forest resources. 

The move was done to improve the management and protection of forests.

The province has sought donations at home and abroad to grow forests and train human resources for forest management and protection.

It has also encouraged the use of advanced techniques, including the use of digital forest data at all management levels. 

In 2015 – 20, the province’s coastal districts of Duyên Hải, Cầu Ngang, Châu Thành, and Duyên Hải Town planted a total 625ha of new forests.

The province’s People’s Committee has zoned a total area of 23,984ha for forest development. –


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Four returnees diagnosed with Covid-19



Medical workers of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi take care of a Covid-19 patient. The Ministry of Health has reported four new imported Covid-19 cases – PHOTO: VNA

HCMC – The Ministry of Health has confirmed four fresh imported Covid-19 cases, including one in Kien Giang and three in Khanh Hoa, taking the country’s Covid-19 tally to 2,737 as of this morning, April 15.

Specifically, the case in Kien Giang is a 25-year-old man residing in Duong Kinh District, Haiphong City. On April 10, he entered Vietnam through the Ha Tien international border gate in Kien Giang and was quarantined in the province.

On April 13, he tested positive for Covid-19 and is being treated at the medical center of Ha Tien City.

The remaining patients include a woman and two men, aged 27, 32 and 26, respectively. The woman is a resident of Thua Thien-Hue Province, while the two men are from Ha Tinh Province.

They flew back to Vietnam from Japan through the Cam Ranh International Airport in Khanh Hoa on April 11 and were quarantined in the province. The three tested positive for Covid-19 on April 14 and are receiving treatment at the Khanh Hoa Hospital for Tropical Diseases.


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