1 December 2011
Results 1 to 12 of 34
1 December 2011
This World Aids Day, December 1st 2011, we will echo the urgent voices of Russian drug users who are living and dying in the grip of an HIV and TB pandemic with almost no recourse or chance to engage in or promote an effective response.
3 December 2011
The Committee will examine the effectiveness of the Government’s 2010 drugs strategy and the UK Government’s contribution to global efforts to reduce the supply and demand of illicit drugs. Organisations and individuals interested in making written submissions are invited to do so by 10 January 2012.
5 December 2011
By Virginia Comolli, Research Analyst Amidst a rise in narcotics interdictions in Mexico, the country’s drugs cartels have increasingly looked to Central America for the transhipment of narcotics from Latin America to the United States. Local criminals across the region have readily adopted the cartels’ business model, precipitating Mexican-style military counter crime and narcotics operations from several Central American governments. In recent years Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, and to a lesser extent Nicaragua and Costa Rica, have experienced growing narcotics-related activity and violence. Violence levels were already four to five times those of Mexico with 700,000 gang members estimated to be operating in the region, remnants of decades of sharp social divisions and civil wars. Statistics are very alarming: according to the World Bank more people suffer violent deaths from criminal activity in El Salvador and Guatemala today than did during the civil wars of the 1980s and 1990s. The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) confirms the same worrying trend: in five of the eight Central American countries homicide rates have increased over the past five years, with homicides doubling in Honduras between 2005 and 2010. Most of these countries are poor, with high unemployment and poor education levels, and there are worries that the violence could significantly impact on their economic development, especially in the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras). In response to this security crisis, governments in the Northern Triangle have decided to follow Mexico’s lead and deploy the military to counter criminals and drug traffickers (Other Latin American countries have also started to adopt this approach. See Brazil’s Operation Agata 2 and Ecuador’s special army brigade). In Guatemala president-elect and former army general Otto Pérez Molina recently promised to deploy 2,500 troops against Mexican drug cartels operating in the country as well as hire an additional 10,000 police officers. This was not the first time the government had decided to take a militarised approach to organised crime. Around 500 troops joined forces with the civilian police on the streets of Guatemala City in July 2010, prompted by a string of violent incidents including an arson attack on a bus in the capital. In December 2010, the army was granted special powers to enter Alta Verapaz (northern Guatemala) to regain control over the province that had fallen into the hands of Mexican cartel Los Zetas. The cartel had moved its operations into Guatemala a year earlier as a result of Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s increased security efforts. In neighbouring Honduras, President Porfirio Lobo launched Operation Lightning in early November 2011. This involved the deployment of hundreds of troops alongside counter-insurgency police in the capital Tegucigalpa and in San Pedro Sula, a city in northern Honduras, with the view of expanding the operation to other critical areas. This move, which has been heavily criticised for effectively militarising public security, has brought about a 90% reduction in violence in the capital and 50% in San Pedro Sula, according to the presidential office. However sceptics argue that the only true improvement has been the reduction in human right abuses and violence by the notoriously corrupt police as they have been occupied by the operation. The Honduran government recently arrested 176 officers in a corruption purge after a group of officers were accused of killing two students. The Honduran Congress has voted in favour of amending the constitution to reform the armed forces so that they may play a greater law enforcement role. In practice, this would grant the army certain police powers, such as search and arrest, during emergency situations. Troops could also now be used for counter-narcotics, counter-terrorist, and counter-trafficking duties on a permanent basis. More troops will soon be involved in counternarcotics operations when a $2million US-funded naval base is inaugurated in December. The base, set to be jointly manned by American and Honduran forces, will be the second of its kind following the establishment of a naval base in Caratasca in April 2010, also tasked with intercepting drug cargoes, including the ever more popular semi-submersible vessels used by traffickers. El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes, under growing public pressure to tackle organised crime and violence more effectively, ordered a six-month army deployment into the worst affected regions in 2009. In May 2010 he announced that he would extend by an additional year the army deployment in support of the police against organised crime. He also pledged to increase the number of zones patrolled by the army from 19 to 29 to thwart a wide array of criminal activities, including drug and human trafficking, and deployed troops to over 60 border areas that had been unguarded up to that point. El Salvador also suffers from a significant police corruption problem. According to Inspector General Zaira, in 2010 274 officers were arrested for involvement in crime with another 232 arrested in the first eight months of 2011, one every day. As violence reaches unprecedented levels and governments lose control of swathes of territory, they face increasing pressure to take decisive action. With police forces tainted by accusations of corruption and brutality (and suffering from chronic understaffing, lack of training and insufficient equipment) and vigilante groups proliferating as a result of government inability to repress cartels and gangs, countries in the Northern Triangle may feel that there is no other option than to deploy armies against organised crime. Defence expenditure in all three Northern Triangle countries has increased. But soldiers are not trained to deal with civilians and giving additional powers to the army has resulted in both corruption among army ranks and competition between the armed forces and the police. In a region of the world where military rule has brought misery to millions of people, extending military powers could generate substantial instability (especially where there has recently been a military coup d’etat, such as Honduras (2009), and where no real oversight mechanism is in place). One should also not forget the lessons from Mexico. President Calderon’s militarised approach has prompted an even more violent and brutal response from cartels, often at the expense of the civilian population. What is more, Calderon’s war on drugs has produced a fragmentation of the major criminal syndicates which, in practice, has only partially weakened them and made violence both more unpredictable and more difficult to contain.
6 December 2011
The Case Study Database –Banco de Injustiças in Portuguese aims to promote a debate among legal professionals about the absence of basic constitutional principles in Brazil’s Drug Laws such as the right to health care, limits on the punitive power of the State and, above all, the democratic spirit of the rule of law.
6 December 2011
O Banco de Injustiças objetivo promover o debate jurídico sobre a ausência de princípios básicos constitucionais na Lei de Drogas, como o direito à saúde, as limitações do poder punitivo do Estado e, sobretudo, o caráter democrático do Estado de Direito.
7 December 2011
Leading international experts in prevention research will meet in Lisbon from 8–9 December to examine the influence of social and economic environments on substance use. Over 100 participants from some 20 countries will gather at the 2nd International Conference of the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR), hosted by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA).
7 December 2011
There is no simple, straightforward fix to America's drug problem. Successfully combating this social challenge and reducing the toll substance abuse takes on our nation requires a broad approach that blends drug treatment, smart law enforcement and effective alternatives to incarceration. With these proven public health and public safety strategies, we can break the vicious cycle of drug use and crime, thereby saving countless lives and taxpayer dollars and helping to make it possible for all Americans to achieve their full potential.
7 December 2011
Since the last update in September, the Count the Costs project of Transform has gone from strength to strength, with new materials, supporters and activities. The main aim of the initiative is to mainstream the drugs issue into sectors that are affected by the drug war, but have yet to engage with it.
8 December 2011
On December 5, 2011, the Romanian Government issued a new Emergency Ordinance which amends the current legislation on drugs. The new provision simplifies the procedures for amending the lists with controlled substances: from now on it will be easier to criminalise a new substance, once identified.
8 December 2011
Initiative for Health, a harm reduction NGO, organised the first street action in Bulgaria to promote drug policy reform. The event was part of a coordinated international advocacy campaign of the European Drug Policy Initiative.
8 December 2011
A United Nations-appointed expert is urging Vietnam’s government to close down rehabilitation centers for drug users and sex workers following criticism of abuses by an international rights group, calling them “counterproductive.”