Standard Set for Countries Fighting Drugs 

Standard Set for Countries Fighting Drugs 
Posted by FoM on August 31, 1999 at 18:53:54 PT
By Sue Baily
Source: Vancouver Sun
OTTAWA (CP) - Countries battling some of the world's worst illicit drug problems have agreed to a standard assessment of how they're faring.
A first report card on the 34 countries in the Organization of American States, including Canada and the United States, is expected in 2001. It will be based on reports filed by each country on annual drug seizures, rehabilitation programs and other efforts to curb production and use. An OAS commission will assess the data and prepare the report at an estimated cost of between $2 million and $3 million US. Member countries will pick up the tab, with the wealthier nations chipping in more. "Narcotics trafficking is one of the most challenging expressions of transnational criminality in the world," Ricardo Avila of Colombia, head of the OAS Secretary General, told OAS anti-drug experts gathered in Ottawa. They met Tuesday and will work to finalize the evaluation process - a Canadian initiative - by Thursday when business wraps up. Canada, the United States and other OAS members ranging from tiny Belize to Brazil are in attendance. Most OAS countries have developed anti-drug plans, but there has been no uniform means to assess their effectiveness until now. Release of the first annual report in early 2001 "will ensure a much more transparent approach to drugs in the hemisphere," said Jean Fournier, Canada's deputy solicitor general. It's also a more co-operative departure from measures such as the U.S. government's so-called Majors list. Countries placed on the dubious roster are considered major sources of illegal drugs into the United States and face financial sanctions. The 1998 list features 28 countries, including Colombia, Brazil and Jamaica - all OAS states. Fournier suggested the new assessment process, if successful, could eventually do away with such finger-pointing. "Through this mechanism, the countries that need the most help will now begin to feel they're no longer alone." There are no reliable estimates on what the global drug trade is worth, said OAS officials. United Nations figures range from $2 billion to $50 billion US annually. The government publication, Canada's Drug Strategy, estimates illicit drugs cost Canadians almost $1.4 billion in 1992 for law enforcement, missed work and health care. There are 1,000 RCMP officers working in drug enforcement and awareness programs across Canada, said Staff Sgt. Derk Doornbos of the drug enforcement branch. The new evaluation process will show law enforcement agencies how they stack up to others around the Americas, he said. "I think it's excellent for all of these countries to be able to evaluate themselves, one against another." As for Canada's funding levels to fight drugs, Doornbos would only say: "I think the RCMP will be properly funded absolutely to undertake its task as far as drug enforcement is concerned." Reform MP Jay Hill (Prince George-Peace River) isn't convinced. "In Canada, there hasn't been a war on drugs," he said. "It's a joke. We're lacking a clear vision of a national drug strategy on how to combat illicit drugs." More enforcement funding and tougher laws are needed to deal with the problem, Hill said. He's still awaiting a response from Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay to a July letter outlining his concerns, he said. "It's ridiculous. As a nation, we've turned a blind eye to this problem - from the trafficking and organized crime to the victims (of addiction.)" Pubdate August 31, 1999
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Comment #1 posted by frank l cowsert jr. on August 31, 1999 at 20:19:14 PT:
more insanity...........
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