THERE have been 142 drugs-related deaths in Cyprus since 2004, the justice minister said on Wednesday, as he emphasised the need to treat users as people in need of help and not as criminals.
In a message marking the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Ionas Nicolaou said various studies have been carried out in recent years that show increasing use of illegal substances, especially among youths.
“Since 2004, 142 drugs-related deaths have been recorded in Cyprus, a fact that causes sorrow and at the same time creates the obligation for us to focus our every effort on tackling this complex, contemporary, and acute phenomenon,” Nicolaou said.
The complexity of the situation demanded that drug users were treated as people in need of treatment and not as common criminals, the minister said.
There was also a need to put all necessary measures in place to eradicate drug rings and prosecute traffickers, he added.
Nicolaou warned that successes in the fight against drugs should not lead to complacency but continuous vigilance in a bid to protect the youth.
“Our objective is suppress drugs related criminal activity by enhancing international cooperation to combat smuggling, illegal trafficking and supplying of drugs,” Nicolaou said.
The state, he said, would strive to continuously reinforce the drugs squad with highly trained personnel and modern equipment to enable it to tackle their difficult task.