265. Telegram 2896 From the Embassy in Nepal to the Department of State 1 2
- Visit of UN Narcotics Officials
1. A team of officials, led by Mr. Dittert, from the UN Fund for Drug Abuse Control (UNFDAC) visited Nepal from June 30 to July 6 at the invitation of the Secretary for Industry and Commerce, Devendra Raj Upadhyaya. Dittert met with Embassy officials to discuss the results of the visit.
2. Dittert said that the team was in general agreement that Nepalese attitudes towards the drug problem had improved in recent years. He noted that the very fact that the UNFDAC had been invited to come was but one indication that some officials, at least, realized that steps must be taken to stem the flow of narcotics, chiefly hasish, from the country.
3. Dittert said that it now appeared that the UN drafted legislation aimed at narcotics control was being held under tight wraps in the Min of Finance. He could give no explanation why the draft was being kept secret, although he hazarded the guess that the government did not want opposition to build up against the bill in advance. He also admitted the possibility that the bill was so full of loopholes that HMG officials did not want to reveal it to UN officials. He doubted that the draft would be presented to the legislature in the near future, or at least not until serious study had been given to the economic consequences for the farmers in the hill regions who rely on hasish cultivation as a money crop.
4. The UNFDAC officials, encouraged by their discussions, appear willing to recommend some sort of UN program for Nepal, if only to maintain the current momentum and to stress the continuing international concern over cannabis emanating from Nepal. The Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission requested the Fund’s assistance in launching a multi-discipline study of land use and cultivation practices in western hills. Such a study would determine the extent of cannabis production, traffic patterns, and would also explore the possibilities for alternative crops and the economic hardships a total ban on cultivation might bring to the area. Dittert felt that such study would prove useful and is prepared to recommend it to the Fund.
5. During his visit Dittert stressed the need for increased penalties on smugglers, since the present law acts as little or no deterrent to trafficking. He also is now appearing in the Kathmandu area from Thailand, as well as over the report that opium poppies are under cultivation.
6. Comment: The UNFDAC team is well aware of the extent of participation by government officials in illicit trafficking, but we share their view that a continuing international pressure to reduce smuggling is important. A UN study of the western hills would appear to us to be useful adjunct to our own efforts aimed at improving enforcement capabilities and could prove to be a necessity if narcotics legilsation is ever to be enacted in the country. At very least it would bring home to concerned officials the extent of the problem in Nepal. We would hope, therefore, that the Fund will endorse the team’s recommendations and that a study effort could be implemented as early as October 1976.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Confidential. It was repeated to Ankara, Geneva, and New Delhi.↩
- UNFDAC sent a delegation to Nepal in the summer of 1976. The Embassy reported on their visit, particularly on efforts to encourage the rapid passage of narcotics control legislation and provide UN help in combating illicit marijuana trafficking.↩