Criminal activities in Vietnam have been getting more and more sophisticated and difficult to control in recent years, with transnational and foreign-related cases on the increase, said Pham Quy Ngo, Deputy Minister of Public Security at a meeting to discuss drugs and crime held in Hanoi on April 27.

Human trafficking, in particular, was a major issue of concern discussed at the meeting.

According to the Standing Office for Crime and Drug Prevention and Control, during the 2004-11 period, 2,600 cases of human trafficking were detected, involving 4,500 offenders and 5,750 victims.

Experts said criminals often took advantage of difficult economic conditions and limited knowledge of the victims by promising them high incomes to convince them to move abroad.

Zhuldyz Akisheva, Country Manager of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) in Vietnam, said the country's rapid economic and social change have provided opportunities for increased transnational organised crime.

She added that Vietnam is primarily a source country - and to a lesser extent a destination country of trafficking in men, women and children for forced prostitution and labour exploitation.

Akisheva cited the limited capacity of key criminal justice workers to appropriately deal with the issue and the lack of appropriate rehabilitation and reintegration services as major challenges to the situation.

Regarding the issue of drug abuse, Akisheva said while heroin is the primary drug of choice among drug addicts in Vietnam , the use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) is on the increase in major cities and urban areas.

She said there are currently more than 158,000 registered drug users nationwide.

A recent survey conducted by the UNODC revealed that while the use of ATS was very low among students (only about 1 percent), the use of the drugs were high and quite frequent among heroin users, sex workers, male homosexuals, taxi drivers, construction workers and bar goers - considered high-risk groups.

The survey was conducted on 10,000 students aged 16-22 in five big cities and provinces, including Hanoi and HCM City, and over 1,350 people in the high-risk groups in Hanoi, HCM City and Da Nang.

According to the survey, ecstasy and crystal meth were among the most popular types of ATS used by the high-risk groups, with the percentage of users reaching 50 to 94 percent.

The meeting also introduced the national strategy on preventing, combating and controlling drug abuse in Vietnam until 2020 with an orientation until 2030, which set out objectives of reducing the existing number of drug addicts by at least 30 to 40 percent and ensuring that 70 percent of communes, wards, towns and living quarters were drug free.

These objectives, along with the target of ensuring the identification, control and treatment of 100 percent of drug addicts, were said by experts to be "ambitious" and "challenging."

Another programme, aimed at combating human trafficking, Programme 130/CP for the 2011-15 period, was planned to ensure that by 2015, 85 percent of people were aware of human trafficking tricks and ways to prevent and combat human trafficking.

The programme will receive funding of 270 billion VND (more than 12.85 million USD) from the Government and mobilise more funding from other sources, including international organisations.-VNA