Pubdate: Sun, 08 Jan 2006
Source: Stabroek News (Guyana)
Copyright: 2006 Stabroek News


Nothing Much Happening

In June last year, the government unveiled a five-year drug strategy 
master plan which included such innovations as wiretapping 
legislation and an enforcement post near the Orinoco Delta, but six 
months on nothing has been done and there is no indication as to when 
the proposals will be implemented.

One of the first things that was to be done before the plan was 
implemented was the establishment of the National Anti-Narcotics 
Coordinating Secretariat (NANCOS), which is to be the main oversight 
body for the strategy. This body has not been formed, and neither has 
there been any indication as to whether resources are available to 
fund the strategy.

The master plan makes clear that the implementation of the measures 
is dependent on the allocation of resources by the government, either 
through its own funding or bilateral and/or multilateral assistance 
as is deemed necessary.

The $650M strategy was unveiled after a four-year hiatus where 
anti-narcotics master plans were concerned, and amid international 
pressure for Guyana to act against the burgeoning drugs trade and the 
growing influence of drug lords.

Minister of Home Affairs Gail Teixeira could not be reached by this 
newspaper on Friday for a comment on the non-implementation of the 
measures outlined in the plan. And PNCR point woman on crime and 
security, Deborah Backer said as far as she was aware nothing had 
been done. She indicated, however, that the plan was one of the 
materials to be studied by members of the recently launched National 
Commission on Law and Order.

Backer added that as a party, the PNCR had not been invited to make 
contributions to the plan and as such they had not been very close to 
anything that was happening.

Sources at the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), indicated that 
meetings had been held with the agency and other stakeholders with 
regard the strategy, but that was as far as it had gone.

According to the strategy, the government will enact legislation 
establishing and empowering NANCOS to deal with counter-narcotic 
activities; to supervise the implementation of the drug plan, 
regional and international drug agreements and to prepare monthly 
reports for submission to the National Anti-Narcotics Commission.

Further, it also seeks to amend laws dealing with electronic 
surveillance such as wiretapping. Among other things, such a law 
would make admissible in the local courts expert scientific evidence 
from foreign jurisdictions. In addition, the intention is to make the 
provisions relating to liquid narcotics/ hashish seizure and 
forfeiture less cumbersome. Several security experts had told this 
newspaper that the wiretapping legislation would help reduce the drug 
problem and could contribute in large measure to the arrest of many 
drug dealers.

The plan also encompassed increasing the joint enforcement presence 
at the nine ports of entry, the establishment of an enforcement port 
in the vicinity of the Orinoco Delta and other locations and 
increased surveillance at Bartica, Anna Regina, Linden and Enmore 
runways, none of which has materialised.

Moreover, the strategy had envisaged that in the first year the 
secretariat would be established and funding sources - local, 
bilateral and international would be identified. The Joint 
Intelligence Coordination Centre (JICC) was also to be 
operationalised in the first year as well as the computerization of 
the Immigration and Criminal Investigation Departments.

The completion of outstanding legislation requirements covering 
narcotics, money laundering and food and drugs, together with the 
relevant regulations are also on the cards for the first year. Year 
one of the implementation of the plan should also see the development 
of a national policy on demand reduction, the strengthening of border 
controls and the enactment of laws to allow for law enforcement 
agencies to be supported from the proceeds of forfeiture.

Also expected in the initial year is the strengthening of the current 
health and family life education programme, the signing and ratifying 
of international agreements and conventions, the drawing up of a 
Memorandum of Understand-ing by law enforcement agencies and the 
commissioning of a study on the police forensic unit.

The training of central bank and financial institutions staff as 
catered for under the Money Laundering Act, the operationalising of 
the Financial Intelligence Unit, the establishment of rehabilitation 
programmes for drug abusers and the fostering of prison 
rehabilitation and counselling complete the measures to be 
implemented within the first year.

Now that six months have past and nothing much has been done 
observers say government would be hard-pressed to implement most of 
the measures outlined in the strategy within the time-frame set.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman