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U.S. Department of State
1997 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, March 1998

United States Department of State

Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs


Europe and Central Asia

TAJIKISTAN

I. Summary

Tajikistan produces a limited amount of opium, but increasing quantities of opium and heroin transit the country, originating in Afghanistan enroute to Russia and Western Europe. Significant seizures show a government effort to control the trade, but limited law enforcement resources as well as corruption limit the effectiveness of this effort. With Russian officers commanding the border guards stationed along the border with Afghanistan, the Government of Tajikistan (GOT) is not in a position to control cross-border activity. The USG has signed a bilateral counternarcotics cooperation agreement with Tajikistan. Tajikistan has acceded to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Tajikistan continued its trend of annual increases in drug seizures, with a noticeable increase in heroin as well as raw opium. The illegal drugs, almost entirely from Afghanistan, flow principally along two routes: through the mountainous Gorno-Badakshan region in eastern Tajikistan, then north through the city of Osh in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and on to Tashkent and beyond, or into southern Tajikistan and from there to the capital Dushanbe, from which it moves by rail, truck or air on to Tashkent and beyond. Drug trafficking groups have established links with elements of the Russian and Tajik border guards, armed Tajik opposition groups, Tajik government officials and Afghan armed groups. They are believed to have links with trafficking organizations extending into Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union.

There is a limited amount of opium cultivation in Tajikistan, principally in the Penjikent Valley where opium was licitly cultivated when such production was permitted. Due to limited resources both to survey and to eradicate this cultivation, precise data is lacking. While anecdotal claims suggest an increase in production, the total appears to still remain small, particularly in comparison with the amounts available elsewhere in the region.

The extent of drug abuse in Tajikistan is unknown, due to the disarray of the public health system and the significant socio-economic changes in the country since its independence. Some abuse certainly exists, and government officials recognize that trafficking may lead to increased use as well. This concern is particularly strong in Gorno-Badakshan, where alternate employment opportunities are extremely scarce. The drug and alcohol treatment centers which existed during the Soviet period are not operating, or operating only at very minimal levels without adequate personnel or other resources.

Tajikistan's economy and banking structures are not conducive to money laundering: the country is isolated, the banking system undeveloped, and the economy lacks extensive international links. Tajikistan does not significantly produce or participate in the transit of precursor chemicals, nor is any narcotics refining believed to take place on its territory.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1997

Policy Initiatives. While the end of the active armed opposition campaign and the signing of a peace accord in June have permitted the expenditure of fewer resources on military needs, the overall weakness of the economy and of government tax collecting methods means all government branches receive inadequate funds. This has affected drug control efforts as well. Nonetheless, increasing seizures demonstrate that many officials continue to make this a high priority area, and the Chairman of the Counternarcotics Coordinating Committee has been able to obtain basic budgetary support for his institution, with support directly from the President of the Republic.

Law Enforcement Efforts. The Government of Tajikistan through the Counternarcotics Coordinating Committee has worked actively with UNDCP's regional office in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and has signed documents for regional UNDCP projects that include Kyrgyzstan. A US Customs basic training course was taught in February, 1997, and a DEA basic course is expected in 1998.

Corruption. Corruption exists in Tajikistan, and plays a significant role in facilitating this illegal trade. A Ministry of Internal Affairs official was arrested in northern Leninabad province in September for narcotics trafficking, and a number of Tajik and Russian military and police personnel have been arrested during the year, demonstrating both that the problem exists and that the GOT is capable of taking at least some actions against it.

Agreements and Treaties. In 1996, Tajikistan acceded to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances in March, 1997. It has signed the Central Asian Counternarcotics Protocol with UNDCP and neighboring central Asian countries, as well as a bilateral cooperation agreement with the United States.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. The US continues to seek increased expertise and efficiency in Tajikistan's law enforcement agencies working against narcotics abuse and trafficking. Related to this are broader issues of police training and reduction in public corruption, both of which would assist democratic development as well as support counternarcotics goals. Tajikistan has sent participants to a variety of USG-sponsored training programs both in the United States and in the region.

The Road Ahead. UNDCP will remain the principal agency supporting counternarcotics efforts in Tajikistan and Central Asia. After a long, slow start, UNDCP-supported projects appear to be taking hold. The US will continue to provide law enforcement training, encourage similar support from Western European countries, and promote regional cooperation as essential to improved counternarcotics performance for all countries in this area.

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