How Sri Lanka, a Growing Drug Trafficking Hub, Is Fighting Drug Abuse at Home

How Sri Lanka, a Growing Drug Trafficking Hub, Is Fighting Drug Abuse at Home
Sri Lankan police officers in protective costumes prepare to destroy a haul of seized cocaine at an industrial facility, Katunayaka, Sri Lanka, Jan. 15, 2018 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world.

On Jan. 18, authorities in Sri Lanka destroyed $108 million worth of cocaine seized from a single shipment in the port of Colombo, which is a growing hub for international drug trafficking. While Sri Lanka does not appear to be a final destination for many of the drugs transiting the country, drug abuse has spiked in recent years, prompting the government to launch ambitious measures aimed at mitigating, and possibly eliminating, drug use by 2020. In an email interview, Sunimalee Madurawala, a research economist at the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka, discusses the country’s current drug policies, how they have evolved and the challenges ahead.

WPR: What are the central components of Sri Lanka’s approach to combating drug use?

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