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Acapulco in the front line as Mexican drug cartels hit back at government

Location: 
Acapulco
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
The Independent (UK)
URL: 
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2251342.ece

Drug-fuelled violence takes toll on Mexico

Location: 
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
Toronto Star (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.thestar.com/News/article/179501

Press Release: Antwerp Prosecutor Ignores Ministerial Guideline On Cannabis

[Courtesy of Draw Up Your Plant] On 25 January 2005, a common guideline was established by the Belgian Minister of Justice and the chief prosecutors in relation with offences against the law on cannabis consumption. Among others, this guideline* determines the following: “The possession, by an adult person, of a quantity of cannabis that does not exceed 3 grammes or 1 cannabisplant, meant for personal consumption, with no aggravating circumstances or disturbance of public order, will only lead to the simple registration by the police “ “The offences that are registered in the framework of this guideline, will not lead to the confiscation of the drugs. These may remain in the possession of the involved person.“ On Friday 9 February 2007, at 9 hs, the Chamber of Accusation of the Court of Appeal of the city of Antwerpen will consider the legitimacy of the use of special investigation methods that have been used by the police in the investigation of the association Trekt Uw Plant vzw ("Draw Up Your Plant"). These methods, like observation of houses and persons, have been used due to the fact that the prosecutor suspects 'Draw Up Your Plant' of establishing an illegal cannabis plantation. This plantation, existing of one motherplant and 5 cuttings, was presented publically on 12 December 2006 in the Botanical Garden of Antwerpen, by 6 members of the association, among who Stijn Bex, Member of the Belgian Parliament. The presentation had been announced publically. Permission had been asked and obtained from both the Lord mayor as well as the Public Order section of the police of the city of Antwerpen. No disturbance of public order nor any other aggravating circumstances took place. According to the guideline of January 2005, the police should have done nothing more than register the facts; no legal sanctions, not even a confiscation should have followed. In the guideline, nothing is mentioned about the question if people may put their cannabis plants together. However, the Antwerp prosecutor is determined to denounce the association and 5 of its members (the sixth member, Stijn Bex, enjoys parliamentary inmunity) because of the "cultivation of drugs'. If the Chamber of Accusation approves the investigation methods used by the police, the court case against 'Draw Up Your Plant' will probably take place on 28 March. With this action, the Antwerp prosecutor ignores the ministerial guideline of January 2005. What's more, it seems as if the prosecutor would like to bury the entire guideline, and again make it possible to prosecute even the smallest quantity of cannabis. *http://www.staatsbladclip.be/wetten/2005/01/31/wet-2005009061.html ANNEX The facts: The association Trekt Uw Plant (Draw Up Your Plant) has been founded in September 2006 in Antwerpen, and registered accordingly at the local Chamber of Commerce. The objective of the association is to allow each of its adult members to grow 1 cannabisplant in a common plantation, in a closed circuit, without any kind of trade taking place. The association wants to work in all transparency, in collaboration with the authorities. On 27 July 2006 the seed of the first motherplant of the association is planted in a public event, in presence of media and police. On 12 December 2006, the first 6 members of the association each take a cutting of this motherplant. The six plants are then transported to the definitive location of the plantation, the address and the key of which are being delivered to the Antwerp Lord Mayor Patrick Janssens, so that the city services like police, fire brigade and others can execute the necessary controls in a relaxed atmosphere. During this transport, the police intervenes. Four people are arrested. They are submitted to hourlong interrogations, their private houses are searched. The cannabis plants, the mobile telephones and personal agendas of the detained are confiscated, as well as the computer and financial administration of the association ENCOD (with whom Draw Up Your Plant shares office space). These goods are returned one week later, when it appears that the computer has not survived the treatment by the Antwerp police: the hard disk is completely useless. At that moment, so it appears now, the prosecutor office has been following the activities of the association for several weeks. Hundreds, possible thousands of police working hours have been used to spy on the association, in spite of the fact that it has been functioning in all openness. What is the prosecutor up to? The police investigations have not led to any new elements. However, the prosecutor office, represented by substitute-prosecutor Olivier Lins, is determined to carry out the case against Draw Up Your Plant, and now requests the Chamber of Accusation to approve the applied methods of investigation. According to us, this leads to only one conclusion: the Antwerp prosecutor wants to get rid of the ministerial guideline, and return to the situation before the year 2003. After years of discussions inside and outside the Belgian parliament, the drugs legislation in this country was modified in May 2003. This modification established that the possession of a quantity of cannabis for personal use by adults would no longer be prosecuted. On 20 October 2004, the Court of Arbitrage decided to abolish this modification, because of its vague formulation. Then, on 25 January 2005, a new common guideline was declared by the Belgian Minister of Justice and the chief prosecutors of all Belgian legal districts. The intention of this guideline remained the same: possession of cannabis is illegal, but if there are no aggravating circumstances, no prosecution will take place. With these modifications, Belgium has in fact installed a tolerant policy concerning cannabis, as has been the case in most European countries and some states of the US for years. This policy aims to establish a distinction between dealers and consumers, as well as between cannabis and other, more riskful drugs. In this way, authorities wish to shift the emphasis in their drugs policy from the legal aspect towards the public health aspect. Substitute-prosecutor Olivier Lins has an own opinion on this tendency. In a speech during a seminar at the Antwerp University on 24 November 2005 Lins said the following: “In relation to cannabis use, there exists big confusion now. This confusion has been created by the authorities, although there was absolutely no need to do so. What matters is consequence in policy and clarity in communication: either we legalise cannabis or we do not, that would create clarity at least. The current situation, a kind of tolerant policy, is not really clear. One can question the need to install a special regulation for the possession of a quantity for personal use by adults. I don't think this need exists.” A tolerant policy is the only way in which authorities can get round the current prohibition of cannabis. This prohibition is internationally agreed: cannabis is mentioned on a list that has been established during the make up of the Single Convention on Drugs in 1961 by the United Nations. Although there have been many calls from experts in many countries to submit this prohibition and its consequences to a thorough review, authorities continue to ignore the issue. Above all the US administration is an arduous partidarian of the continuation of this policy. What is this really all about? Draw Up Your Plant is an effort of involved and concerned citizens to establish a definitive and clear regulation on the cultivation of cannabis in Belgium. Due to the current illegal status of cannabis, no control whatsoever is possible on the production, trade and use of this substance, that is used regularly by approx. half a million people in Belgium. Criminality, public nuisance, coffeeshop tourism to the Netherlands, serious risks for public health by adulterated cannabis and free access by minors are among the direct consequences of this situation. In the model of Draw Up Your Plant, these problems can be avoided or reduced. The court case against Draw Up Your Plant will become the case against the tolerance with regards to cannabis possession which exists in Belgium since 2003. It seems as if the Antwerp prosecutor wants to do everything to re-establish an absolute ban on cannabis. Thus, legal authorities would again get hold of the agenda in the way cannabis is treated, in stead of public health. The clock would be turned backwards for several years. Stijn Goossens Philippe Decraene Joep Oomen TREKT UW PLANT (vzw) Lange Lozanastraat 14 2018 Antwerpen België Tel. 03 237 7436 - GSM: 0479 982271 / 0495 122 644 E-mail:encod@glo.be / hardcoreharmreducer@gmail.com www.hardcoreharmreducer.be / www.cannaclopedia.be / www.encod.org
Location: 
Antwerp, VAN
Belgium

The Drug War Chronicle Andean Coca Tour 2007 is about to get underway

Friday night, I will be bedding down in Peru, after a day-long flight from Sioux Falls to Denver to Houston to Lima. That will be the first of 21 nights in Peru and Bolivia as the Drug War Chronicle explores the coca industry and its unsavory relative, the cocaine industry, in the Andes. While the process of making connections is ongoing and always a little shaky in developing countries, things are falling into place. While I will spend most of that first weekend resting and getting oriented, it looks like I'll have lunch Monday with Peruvian psychologist and coca expert Baldomero Caceres and Anthony Henman. Henman is a legendary name when it comes to coca. The British anthropologist (since gone native) is the man who, under a pseudonym, wrote "Mama Coca" back in the 1970s. That was the first serious ethnographic study of coca's history and use in the Andes for lay readers in English. I look forward to seeing what Henman has to say about the current state of affairs. Later that day, I will go to the upscale suburb of Miraflores for dinner with Ricardo Soberon, a leading Peruvian drugs and security expert. He was an advisor to coca grower leader turned congresswoman Nancy Obregon, but has since departed over unspecified political differences. I'll be sure to query him (and Nancy) about the nature of those differences. Speaking of Nancy, she is currently back home in northern Peru, so I won't be able to talk to her during that first week. But she will be back in Lima at the end of the month, and I will do an interview with her then. (I have to be out of Bolivia by February 28 because their visa requirements kick in on March 1.) I think I will fly from Lima to Ayacucho next Wednesday. That ancient city high in the Andes is the historic heartland of Sendero Luminoso, the Maoist guerrillas who led an uprising in the 1980s where tens of thousands were killed. The Senderistas are still around, though much weakened, and they try to gain the support of coca growers by killing policemen and anti-government drug workers. But Ayacucho is also the home of national coca growers' union leader Nelson Palomino, whom I will interview. Palomino and his crew have also promised to show me the coca fields and let me talk to farmers, so that should be enlightening. After that, I'll take a couple of days for the mandatory tourist visit to Machu Picchu outside Cusco, then I'll bus it from Cusco across the altiplano to Bolivia. At least that's the plan right now; there are reports of severe flooding right where I'll be crossing the border. I'm still trying to set things up with the American embassy in Lima and with the big Peruvian drug bureaucracies, ENACO (the coca monopoly) and DEVIDA (the drug enforcement bureaucracy). I've been talking with the US press officer in Lima about getting a meeting, but because I don't represent established media, I can't get official press status with the embassy, which means the press officer won't officially deal with me, but may manage to hook me up with some of the drug people in the embassy. Similar plans are in the works for Bolivia. Stay tuned.
Location: 
United States

7 slain in Mexico police stations. The two Acapulco attacks are carried out by gunmen dressed as soldiers. Authorities see a link to drug cartels.

Location: 
Acapulco, GRO
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexshooting7feb07,1,241860.story?coll=la-headlines-world

Venezuela Shirks Money From U.S. 'Devil' to Fight Drugs

Location: 
Caracas
Venezuela
Publication/Source: 
Fox News
URL: 
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,250682,00.html

GOP lawmakers press Bush on Afghanistan

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-drugwar7feb07,1,6836767.story?coll=la-headlines-world

Africa: Proposed Draconian Drug Law in Namibia Runs Into Intense Opposition

A proposed tough new drug law in Namibia that would send any drug offender to prison for 20 years—no matter which drug nor how small the quantity—ran into a buzz saw of opposition at a public hearing in the national capital, Windhoek, this week. Rastafarians, the arts community, legal scholars, and legal aid groups alike used the first of three days of public hearings to condemn the proposed measure as unduly harsh, and many called openly for the legalization of marijuana, according to a report inThe Namibian.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/namibiacrest.jpg
Namibia coat of arms
The "Combating the Abuse of Drugs Act" sailed through the National Assembly last year, but was referred to a National Council standing committee after some members objected to the suggested sentences for convicted offenders. It calls for a 20-year sentence for a first drug offense and a 30-year sentence for a subsequent drug offense. It would also subject anyone who "imports, exports, manufactures, promotes, sells or in any other manner provides instruments or literature for illegal consumption of drugs" to a 20-year prison sentence.

But attendees at the hearing were not shy about criticizing the law or calling for the legalization of marijuana. "If lawmakers think that this law will bring the crime rate down, they know very little," argued local artist Elmotho Mosimane. "Why in 2007, while the rest of the world is moving in the opposite way, are we going this route? In Amsterdam, where it is legal, where I can smoke marijuana in a bar, the crime rate is very low. How do we know that this law was not just brought in because of someone's personal feelings and convictions?" he asked the panel.

Lawmakers should consider the large number of people in Namibia who smoke marijuana and whether it really wants to jail them for decades, said media practitioner Augetto Graig. "No study has been made to establish how many people consume marijuana ... If such a study is completed thoroughly, I'm sure you'd find that these are at all levels of society, from the lower levels all the way up to parliamentarians," he said. "Where will you house all these people? Jails are already overcrowded, and we know that our jails have a reputation for being factories that create criminals."

But it wasn't just Rastas and bohemian artists who objected to the proposed law. The punishments envisioned were disproportionate to the offenses, said attorney Kaijata Kangueehi of the Magistrate's Commission. "The sentences are just too extraordinary, in the sense that they are way too heavy," Kangueehi argued as he handed the panel a 29-page presentation. "Nowhere in the Act is it looked at the quantity a person is caught with. If you are found with an amount which fits in a match box, you're treated the same as if you were caught with two tons. You don't need Solomon's wisdom to understand the unfairness of that situation," he said.

The Namibian Legal Aid Center also raised objections to the harsh sentences in the proposed law and even raised questions about its constitutionality. Namibians would find the sentences "shocking," especially when compared to alcohol, the group argued. "The effects of alcohol on neighbors and families are documented in our newspapers every day, yet it would appear that our legislature rightly accepts that it is a personal choice should one wish to use or abuse alcohol, insofar as the rights of others are not being violated."

The Legal Aid Center recommended that proposed sentences be drastically reduced. "If it is found that minimum sentences must be entertained in respect of certain drugs, the length of sentences should be considered, a period of six months to 12 months being suggested. This would coincide with most rehabilitation treatment periods," the organization said. The Center also called for drug sentences to be served "at a facility specifically designed for such rehabilitation purposes."

The Center objected to the language about promoting "instruments or literature for illegal consumption of drugs," arguing that it could lead to people being prosecuted for selling rolling papers or water pipes, or even for promoting any literature or video related to reggae music or Rastafarianism, where marijuana smoking is part of a religious ceremony. "This provision would almost certainly offend against religious freedom and freedom of thought, consequence and belief which is protected under article 21 of the Namibian constitution," the Center said.

Namibia's new drug law is not a done deal yet. If legislators are actually listening to the people at the public hearings on the law, they will go back to the drawing board.

A Cohesive Strategy for the Future of Afghanistan: Reconciling Counter-Insurgency, Counter-Narcotics and Reconstruction Efforts"

The Senlis Council, in collaboration with The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), will be holding a symposium on “A Cohesive Strategy for the Future of Afghanistan: Reconciling Counter-Insurgency, Counter-Narcotics and Reconstruction Efforts.” The symposium will seek to make recommendations on how to reconcile the Counter-Insurgency, Counter-Narcotics and Reconstruction strands of the effort in Afghanistan. A post-symposium report with main findings and policy recommendations will be published by The Senlis Council and IISS in spring 2007. Keynote speakers: Lieutenant General David Richards, Commander, NATO-International Security Assistance Force General Abdul Rahim Wardak, Minister of Defence, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ms. Norine MacDonald QC, President and Lead Field Researcher for Afghanistan, The Senlis Council Speakers: Mr. Peter Bergen, Senior Fellow, New America Foundation Dr. Patrick Cronin, Director of Studies, IISS Ambassador James Dobbins, Director of the International Security and Defence Policy Centre, RAND Dr. David Kilcullen, Chief Strategist, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, US State Department Ms. Elizabeth Kvitashvili, Director, Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation, USAID Mullah Taj Mohammad Mujahid, Chairman, Counter-Narcotics Committee, Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ms. Hawa Alam Nuristani, Member, International Affairs Committee, Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mr. Larry Sampler, Senior Fellow, Institute for Defence Analyses For further information and to consult the programme, please visit http://www.senliscouncil.net/modules/events/IISS_conference or http://www.iiss.org/events-calendar/this-month/symposium-richards-wardak...
Date: 
Wed, 02/14/2007 - 11:00pm
Location: 
London
United Kingdom

Military fights drugs

Location: 
Fiji
Publication/Source: 
Fiji Times
URL: 
http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=56503

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