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Minister Michael Farrugia addresses the Council of Europe Pompidou Group’s 3rd General Aviation Conference

Reference Number: PR192548, Press Release Issue Date: Nov 27, 2019
Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Michael Farrugia presided during the Council of Europe Pompidou Group’s 3rd General Aviation Conference on ‘Combatting Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and Drugs’, held in Valletta. 
Minister Michael Farrugia outlined that during the last legislature, when he was the Minister responsible for Social Welfare, the Ministry invested heavily in rehabilitation, increasing its equipment and its work force. The government fully finances two non-governmental organisations that offer residential therapeutic drug rehabilitation programmes, and fully finances a half-way house for the therapeutic rehabilitation in the community, as well as an aftercare programme, stated the Minister. 
During his speech, Minister Michael Farrugia gave brief updates on the achievements accomplished by this government in the rehabilitation sector, including the Caritas Malta residential rehabilitation programme for youths, and the approval through Parliament of the Drug Dependence Act (Treatment Not Imprisonment).
Minister Michael Farrugia maintained that, according to the latest United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) Drug Seizure Report, Morocco found and confiscated 235 tons of cannabis in 2015, as cannabis used to reach the European countries from Morocco through well-established routes. According to the report, the amount of cocaine seized in 2016 was over 1,000 tons, an unprecedented figure. 
Minister Michael Farrugia stated that Malta invested heavily in equipment and human resources which gave positive results. Between 2017, 2018 and 2019, the Maltese Police Drug squad and Customs officials seized;
346 kg of Cannabis Grass;
17,097 kg of Cannabis Resin;
1,233 kg of Cocaine;
13 kg of Heroin;
117 million Tramadol pills.
The Minister continued that, during this time, the Medical and Kindred Professions Ordinance and the Dangerous Dugs Ordinance were amended so that all new psychoactive substances, listed or not, are deemed illegal if not licenced by the medicine authority. 
Minister Michael Farrugia said that the Maltese prison has also invested heavily in purchasing body scanners and baggage scanners, whilst the K-9 unit underwent training. These initiatives have reduced the drug entry into prison to nearly 0%. Moreover, the Minister maintained that inmates will be given the necessary treatment from drug rehabilitation from the first day of being admitted to prison.
The Minister concluded that all of these measures are part of the government’s pledge to fight drug smuggling and consumption, and emphasise on the treatment of victims.