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Kuwaiti royal sentenced to die; Trafficked drugs

Kuwait City
Arab Times (Kuwait)

Ottawa's war on drugs a failure, report says

Ottawa, ON
CTV (Canada)

The West Should Buy Afghanistan's Opium Crop

The Sunday Herald (UK)

Mexican cartels settling into Peru

The Herald (Mexico)

US faces eviction from Ecuadorian base

ISN Security Watch (Switzerland)

Europe: European Union Funds Dialogue With Civil Society on Drug Policies

In the final budget measure it passed last year, the European Parliament approved an amendment allocating $1.3 million to support the dialogue process with civil society on drug policy. The move comes as the European Union prepares to review its continent-wide stance on drug policy in 2008.

The measure, which was proposed by groups like the European NGO Coalition for a Just and Effective Drug Policies, was defeated in September, but supporters managed to get another vote for it last month. The European Commission must now approve a final document on which the dialogue will be based. That is set for April, and if the existing schedule holds, a call for proposals to participate in the dialogue will go out in September.

"This means that we have succeeded in creating a separate budget for the dialogue process that the European Commission is planning to start this year," said ENCOD coordinator Joep Oomen. "We will have a clear view on how much money they have for this dialogue, and by consequence, we have a better check on how they will divide it."

While ENCOD's participation in the dialogue process is not guaranteed, it is likely given the group's key role in opening the European Union drug policy discussion to both civil society and the new ideas emanating from it. "One third of all participants in the January 2006 conference in Brussels were ENCOD members," Oomen told Drug War Chronicle. "Our response to their call for comments was one of the most extensive for sure, so it will be very difficult to deny us any access. We are very well known in the European Parliament as a civil society network around drug policy."

But Oomen maintained a healthy skepticism about the EU's willingness to engage in a true dialogue with opponents of the global drug prohibition regime. "In September, they will organize a call for proposals, and, of course, there are many ways to filter out candidates for participation."

ENCOD is supporting the European Parliament's 2004 set of recommendations for an emphasis on harm reduction instead of prohibitionism known as the Catania Report. While those recommendations represent the sentiment of the European Parliament, whether the governments that make up the European Union will accept it remains to be seen.

Troops mass to fight drugs in Acapulco, 2 other cities

Acapulco, GRO
The Arizona Daily Star

Latin America: Mexico Considering Creation of "Drug Czar" Post

The government of Mexican President Felipe Calderon is considering the creation of a national "drug czar" position to coordinate its offensive against drug traffickers. The proposal comes as President Felipe Calderon wages a police and military offensive with thousands of troops deployed against drug traffickers in the state of Michoacan and the border city of Tijuana.

Last year, drug prohibition-related violence in Mexico reached record levels, with some 2,000 people killed in internecine struggles among the so-called cartels and in fighting between police and cartel gunmen. The business of supplying drug-hungry Americans is a multi-billion dollar enterprise for Mexico's drug trafficking organizations.

Mexican media reported last week that the Calderon administration was studying the proposal and consulting with the military high command and US authorities as part of the process. According to those reports, the "drug czar" would participate in formulating national security strategy and would be advised by high-ranking officials from the departments of defense, navy, finance, and public security, as well as the Attorney General's office.

The notion has the support of legislators in the ruling PAN party, as well as members of the left opposition PRD. PAN Senator Felipe Gonzalez Gonzalez told Formato 21 radio that creating a "drug czar" post is a "subject of national interest." He urged legislators from all parties to "responsibly analyze the feasibility" of creating such a post and to support legislation that would make it possible.

PRD Senator Graco Ramirez told the radio station he agreed with the need for a "drug czar" given the growing power of the drug trafficking organizations, adding, perhaps wishfully, that the position should be held by a military officer to "avoid the temptation of being corrupted" by the cartels.

The "drug czar" would undoubtedly be a busy man if the position is created. Calderon administration officials have told reporters that the military-police forays into Michoacan and Tijuana are likely to be expanded to the states of Guerrero and Sinaloa.

Drug needle machine plan rejected

United Kingdom
BBC News

South America trip back on again, and maybe a visit to the meth conference, too.

As readers of this blog know, I had to postpone my trip to Peru and Bolivia to report on coca doings because the Bolivian government announced on New Year's Day that US citizens would need visas to enter the country, even if coming as tourists. That announcement was followed by days of uncertainty, with the Bolivian consulate in Washington saying first one thing, then another about visa requirements. That's when we decided to postpone the trip. Now, thanks to Kathryn Ledebur of the Andean Information Network, who was kind enough to send me Bolivian press reports, we find out that the Bolivian government has decided the new visa requirements will not go into effect until March. That means I will now reschedule my trip for February. One of the regrets I had about the original trip schedule was that it would mean I would miss the 2nd National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV, and Hepatitis organized by the Harm Reduction Project. The last one was absolutely outstanding, with cutting edge research and too many good panels to take in, and I expect this one to be as important. Now, I could make this conference...if DRCNet has enough money to send me. Calling Mr. Borden...
United States

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