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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

Op-Ed: Limits on drugs a boon to cartels

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Daily Breeze (CA)
URL: 
http://www.dailybreeze.com/opinion/articles/5574261.html

Drug treatment doctors call for new thinking on services

Location: 
Ireland
Publication/Source: 
Irish Medical News
URL: 
http://www.irishmedicalnews.ie/articles.asp?Category=news&ArticleID=18014

Southwest Asia: British Conservatives Call for Afghan Opium to Be Licensed, Converted to Pharmaceuticals, Not Destroyed

As they prepare for pending elections, British Conservatives have joined the call for licensing of the Afghan opium crop. The move comes just days after the British Medical Association called for Afghan opium to be processed into heroin and prescribed to addicts.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/opium-smaller.jpg
the opium trader's wares (photo by Chronicle editor Phil Smith during September 2005 visit to Afghanistan)
The US and its NATO allies in Afghanistan have an official policy of eradicating the country's poppy crop, but given the potential dangers of pushing opium farmers into the waiting arms of the Taliban, politicians and officials across Europe are increasingly seeking other options. A 2005 proposal by the European defense and drug policy think tank the Senlis Council to license the crop and divert into the legitimate medicinal market has proved to be a convenient starting off point for those seeking alternatives to eradication.

Conservative leader Lord Howell told parliament last week that the "very dangerous" policy of eradication was "just not working." He said alternatives like licensing the crop needed to be looked at. "The more we try to eradicate, the more poppies seem to get grown," he said. "Trying to stop poor farmers growing poppies to survive and live and feed their families is going to be almost impossible," he said.

Lord Howell's comments came just days after the British Medical Association argued that Afghan opium could be used to help deal with a shortage of prescription heroin, or diamorphine, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of science and ethics, told the BBC. "If we actually were harvesting this drug from Afghanistan rather than destroying it, we'd be benefiting the population of Afghanistan as well as helping patients and not putting people at risk," said Nathanson. "There must be ways of harvesting it and making sure that the harvest safely reaches the drug industry which would then refine it into diamorphine," she suggested. "It should be possible, and really Government and the international groups that are in Afghanistan should be looking at this and saying how can we convert it from being an illicit crop to a legal crop that is medicinally useful."

Afghanistan losing war on drugs, general says

Location: 
London
United Kingdom
Publication/Source: 
Baltimore Sun
URL: 
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/bal-te.afghandrugs04feb04,0,1453666.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines

The U.S. joins war on drugs within Dominican territory

Location: 
Santo Domingo
Dominican Republic
Publication/Source: 
Dominican Today (Dominican Republic)
URL: 
http://www.dominicantoday.com/app/article.aspx?id=22112

GUINEA-BISSAU: Fears of an emerging narcostate

Location: 
Bissau
Guinea-Bissau
Publication/Source: 
IRIN (United Nations)
URL: 
http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=57292&SelectRegion=West_Africa&SelectCountry=Guinea-Bissau

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