Pubdate: Sun, 28 Dec 2008
Source: Buenos Aires Herald (Argentina)
Copyright: 2008 S.A. The Buenos Aires Herald Ltd.
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)

Anti-Drug NGO Criticizes Move, Says It Will Favour Dealers


"This ruling would be a huge favour for drug dealers," said Claudio 
Izaguirre - head of the Argentine Anti-drug Association. "Until now, 
drug addicts who were arrested for possession of narcotics for 
personal use were sent to a rehabilitation centre, which was afforded 
by the state," added Izaguirre.

"If possession is legalized, only those who have the money to pay for 
the treatment will have a chance to recover from drug addiction," 
warned Izaguirre. "This will only favour drug dealers, but not the 
addicts," he concluded.

A Catholic Church leader yesterday rejected the decriminalization of drug use.

"The Church will continue to oppose anything that goes against human 
life, our rejection is drastic" said Eduardo Serantes, head of the 
National Commission of Justice and Peace of the Argentine Synod. 
Serantes called on the authorities to fight the "narco-business in 
politics." He criticized the government for "tolerating drugs instead 
of focusing on consumer treatment  and chasing drug traffickers and producers."

In September, Serantes and San Isidro bishop Jorge Casaretto handed 
out to lawmakers a the draft of a plan for drug use prevention.

In November 2007, the head of the Argentine Synod, Jorge  Cardinal 
Bergoglio, said the "narco-business is prospering in our country, 
destroying many families. Argentina has ceased to be a mere path of 
drug trafficking."

Federal Prosecutor Monica Cunarro - a member of the Justice Ministry 
committee working to amend the drug law - disagreed with Izaguirre's 
criticism and claimed it is the current drug law what favours drug trafficking.

"The current drug law is the one that's been functional to drug 
trafficking," said Cunarro. "For the past 28 years, people has been 
arrested on the streets for possession of small quantities of drugs 
while shady deals were made with drug-traffickers," she added.

According to Law 23737, approved in 1989 during the presidency of 
Carlos Menem, users can be sentenced to a maximum of two years in 
jail when the amount of drugs found on them "suggests without doubt 
that the drug is for personal use," the law reads.

The Supreme Court was set to meet tomorrow to analyze an injunction 
filed by a group of citizens in Rosario who have asked for the law 
punishing drug possession to be declared unconstitutional.

Four of the seven Supreme Court justices are expected to vote in 
favour of ruling the unconstitutionality of the drug law, but the 
ruling has been delayed because the justices are said to be trying to 
reach a unanimous decision, judicial sources said. The ruling would 
mean a drastic change in the way users are considered by the legal 
system and the medical treatment they receive. Reports yesterday said 
the ruling could be announced in February.
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