QaribTalks#7: A drug problem that never existed? Drug trafficking, users, criminalization and its media coverage in the Middle East
Does a problem that we’re not talking about really exist? Drugs are an enormously growing problem in the Middle East, but it is only barely covered by the media. What is the situation? And how can local media report on drugs in all their facets? What are the obstacles and risks ? In our QaribTalk#7 we would like to discuss these and other questions with you and our experts from Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan.
In 2022, the Jordanian Public Security Service stops drug traffickers and seizes drugs almost every other week, either on their way to Saudi Arabia, which has become the biggest market for Captagon in particular, but the number of users in Jordan is also growing. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, crystal meth is now considered the most dangerous and widespread drug in Iraq; it is now secretly manufactured in Iraq itself. At the same time, drug use is being criminalized and prisons are filling up with people convicted of drug-related offences. In Lebanon, the crisis, and with it the lack of perspective and growing frustration of the population, has also affected the type and number of drug users, who are getting younger, also have access to new drugs such as crystal meth, and use them as a coping mechanism, according to a survey conducted by Skoun.org; and for Palestine, it is even difficult to find detailed information and research on the legal framework, drug users and drug trafficking, although one hears on the street that drug use has increased in recent years.
The topic of drugs has many facets, it is about production, smuggling, use, the type of drugs, the legal framework for products and users, the socio-economic and political context of use and acceptance of substances. And of course it is about a lot of money. Who benefits from it and what impact does drug trafficking and consumption have on societies in the Middle East? What has changed in recent years? And what impact does it have on the risks for journalists and the ability of media to cover the topic, also regarding Access to Information? Why is the topic strongly underrepresented in the media? We need to talk about these and other questions. Please join the debate in our QaribTalk#7.