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Australians and drug offences overseas



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Wo. Mil Date 1 February 1978 THE HOW. ANDREW PEACOCK M.P.

AUSTRALIANS AND DRUG OFFENCES OVERSEAS

Commenting on recent reports of a severe sentence imposed on an Australian in S.E. Asia charged, with trafficking ' in drugsĀ» the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Andrew Peacock., said that it was an. illustration of the harsh, penalties which could be faced by those convicted of drug offences overseas. Drug trafficking is a matter of major concern in many other

countries as well as Australia.

Mr Peacock appealed once again to Australians to heed cautions regarding the risks of becoming involved with drugs while travelling overseas. !iI have spoken in and. out of Parliament about the deep concern of the Government over the numbers of Australians - particularly young Australians -

arrested overseas on drug charges", Mr Peacock said.

"I have pointed out that it must be realised that Australians overseas are subject to the laws of the country in which they are travelling. There is little the Australian Government can do if people are arrested on such charges other

than to advise them, inform their families and check on their welfare, just as foreign governments cannot intervene in Australia in similar cases.

"At my direction,every passport issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs contains a booklet to guide travellersĀ» In launching the revised edition last year, I said that because of the increasing number of young Australians involved in drug offences overseas, the booklet, gives special emphasis to the danger of involvement in. drugs, no matter how minor or how

innocent. It warns of the severity of penalties now being imposed in more and more countries - including the death penalty - and the harsh and primitive conditions of some foreign gaols.

"I can also point, with considerable appreciation, to the responsible approach of the Australian media in this area", Mr Peacock said. "I have read many detailed and extensive articles, and seen a number of programs throughout Australia which have sought, in the public interest to alert people to

the dangers and. pitfalls of involvement with drugs when travelling overseas.

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, "There is a hopeful sign that our efforts in this

direction may be beginning to achieve their aim. In 1976, the first year in which I spoke out about this problem, 143 Australians were arrested overseas on drug charges. Last year this fell to 108. With the aim of substantially reducing this

figure still further, I will be continuing my efforts to make the Australianrcommunity more aware of the implications and the risks of involvement with narcotic drugs while travelling overseas. Penalties sometimes far harsher than those prescribed under Australian law, and prison conditions very different

to those in this country, await the person who ignores this warningif.