Bring back legality!

Bring back legality! ABSTRACT: In Europe, as in the rest of the world, mafia crimes and political corruption increase when the police are given more power which is often unwarranted. This phenomenon endangers the legal institutions of the European Community which, by January 1993, will have abolished its internal frontiers, thus permitting people, goods and capital to circulate freely. In view of this, the European Parliament has set up a Commission of Inquiry into Organized Crime Linked to Drug-Trafficking in EC Countries. Marco Taradash, Vice-President of the above Commission of Inguiry, and member of the Federal Council of the Radical Party, was asked to write a report on the growth of the phenomen, a summary of which is printed below. (The Party New, n.3, August 1991) Drug-users and drug-traffickers have been the prime target of legal systems throughout the world since the mid-seventies. Today, almost every country finds itself having to deal with a series of complex social problems: the spreading of drug addiction and AIDS; a disproportionate increase in organized crime; an increase in urban delinquency provoked by drug pushing, and the corruption of political and economic systems. It was thought that these complex social problems could be resolved simply by using repressive measures. In many countries, it is the drug-traffickers who are most severely punished, and the worst offenders are either sentenced to life imprisonment or the death penalty. The black market for drugs is ever-widening. The criminalization of drug-users, and their being driven underground, has resulted in drug subcultures being formed which greatly endanger both the health and lives of drug addicts. Most addicts are forced to take to the streets, to prostitute themselves, and to resort to crime, and consequently the quality of life in the big cities has suffered. Instead of solving these problems, the repressive tactics used, and constantly perfected, in the international "war" on drugs, have had the main effect of causing drug-trafficking itself, and the laundering of drug money, to become more and more sophisticated both in concept and operation. Drug mafias are different to all other types of criminal organizations and constitute an unprecedented threat to society because of the following characteristics of the black market: it is transnational; it is the biggest money earner; it is highly flexible and bounces back every time the police win any kind of victory; its potential is doubled by the fact that it is not only sustained by drug-users, but - in the case of hard drugs - addicts-turned-pushers; it operates on a cash basis, and it makes the actual trafficking very easy because of the enormous profit that can be made on small amounts. In order to understand the drugs black market, one needs to apply a theory of economics rather than a policy of repression, in that any partial diminishing of the "product", paradoxically strengthens the black market. In reality, the amount of drugs confiscated in the EC - which is considerable - hardly makes a dent in the stockpiles held by the various mafias; therefore prices on the black market remain stable. Drug-trafficking and the laundering of drug money are also linked by the fact that they are both crimes without victims, in that a person who buys drugs does so to satisfy a need or desire, and a bank that launders money does so for profit. On the one hand, this results in the financial operators having to work according to more strict rules; but on the other, it deprives the police of a possible collaborator who would denounce the crime. This has a negative effect both on the legal system and in the area of civil rights, as the magistracy and police are obliged to resort to various stratagems - violence, obliging criminals to "grass", intercepting phonecalls and confiscating property before a sentence has been passed - which could easily constitute an abuse of power or lay them wide open to corruption. It is necessary, therefore, to distinguish between the damage caused by drugs and that provoked by the legal apparatus. The current prohibitionist policy on drugs inflicts violence, disorder, corruption and lawlessness on drug-users and non-users alike, and this is the price society has to pay. This policy of repression has done nothing to resolve a drug addict's problems and, if anything, has made them worse. How much of a hard drug- user's suffering is caused by his being treated like a criminal and driven underground, and how much is caused by actual drug abuse? The fact that AIDS is spreading rapidly amongst drug addicts - and also the rest of society - because they share the same needle, makes finding an answer to the above question even more imperative. An important contribution was made by the "1st Conference of European Cities at the Centre of Drug-Trafficking", which was held at Frankfurt in November 1990. The various city councils that signed the resolution presented asked the EC to modify the current prohibitionist policy, by treating drug addiction as if it were a social and health problem, and concentrating more on repairing the damage rather than turning drug-taking into a moral issue. The councils also called upon the European Parliament and its Executive Commission to: "normalize the laws of the individual countries in what will be a United Europe, basing them on the decriminalization and depenalization of drug use, and the reduction of human damage caused by drugs". I would like to add that the dangers inherent in the current trend as stated above could increase considerably if the mafias establish themselves, and invest capital, in the Eastern European countries which have recently emerged from a Communist dictatorship. The relatively unstable public institutions and economies of these countries, the presence of established crime networks and former secret police departments who have always been sympathetic to drug-traffickers, expose them to the very real danger of becoming centres for the production, refining and sale of drugs. Will the EC succeed in thwarting this danger? US attempts at repression, and use of military force, against the drug bosses in Central America and the results achieved, do not offer a great deal of encouragement. For the above reasons, the EC must analyze the situation very carefully before continuing with its current prohibitionist policy on drugs. If this policy, which makes the use and sale of drugs a crime, continues to have adverse effects, it could compromise the legality of the public institutions in all EC countries in the space of a very few years.