DRUGS/UN: POPPY ERADICATION IS A LOST CAUSE, BETTER TO LEGALIZE OPIUM
Brussels, 30 August 2006
With poppy cultivation remaining a serious and growing problem in Afghanistan, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has organized a workshop for members of the counter-narcotics commissions of both houses of the country’s National Assembly. The workshop, part of a joint project between UNDP and Support to the Establishment of the Afghan Legislature (SEAL), is the first in a series designed to assist Assembly commission members in their work.
According to UNDP, in 2006 370,650 acres of opium poppy were cultivated in Afghanistan, compared with 257,000 acres of last year. Enough opium was produced in Afghanistan last year to make 450 tons of heroin, or nearly 90 per cent of the world’s supply.
Statement by Marco Cappato, MEP and Coordinator for the Parliamentarians for Antiprohibitionist Action:
“At the Kabul meeting organized by the UNDP to train counter-narcotic officials, Mr. John Patterson, Project Manager of SEAL apparently stated that “the success with which the drug problem is tackled in Afghanistan will affect the lives of each and every Afghan citizen”. If one were to judge that success by the results of UN-backed policies of poppy eradication, one would come to the conclusion that opium, despite the money and efforts invested by the international community, is leading, or rather has led, Afghans to ruin. And that may be true, but only because Afghan peasants are forced to destroy the only lucrative crop they produce.
Given the notorious lack of availability of opiates in the world, and taking into consideration that illicit activities are always coordinated by criminal and terrorist networks, wouldn’t it be more effective to include within the law the production of poppy and allow a regulate and profitable economy on opium-based products to take hold in what alas remain a war-thorn country?
Last year the Senlis Council, an international “drug policy advisory group” issued a feasibility study to license opium production in Afghanistan, Mr. Patterson and his partners at the UN should have a look at the proposals it contains, they could really affect the life of Afghans as well as Europe’s heroin market.”
For more information, please contact Marco Cappato's office in Brussels: +126.96.36.199288