Pubdate: Tue, 30 Dec 2008
Source: Buenos Aires Herald (Argentina)
Copyright: 2008 S.A. The Buenos Aires Herald Ltd.
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)

Fayt Says No Decision Will Be Made Until February


Supreme Court Justice Carlos Fayt yesterday confirmed the Court will 
not rule on the decriminalization of narcotics possession for 
personal use until February, after reports last week  indicated a 
decision could be reached yesterday.

Also, Justice Minister Anibal Fernandez responded to Civic Coalition 
leader Elisa Carrio, who accused him of having links with drug traffickers.

"We must wait until February," Fayt told reporters when asked about 
the controversial decision. The Supreme Court was set to meet 
yesterday 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.

The ruling would mean a drastic change in the way users are 
considered by the legal system and the medical treatment they 
receive, and reports indicate the ruling was delayed in order for the 
Court to reach a unanimous decision in order to vote in favour of 
ruling the drug law unconstitutional.

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.

Justice Minister Anibal Fernandez, who is working on a set of 
recommendations for Congress in order to amend the current drug law, 
yesterday said drug addicts should not be punished although he urged 
the state to fight drug-trafficking.

"It's necessary not to punish consumers and addicts," Fernandez said 
during a radio interview. "But the state must have firm policies 
against drug trafficking and a strong prevention plan," he added.

"Repressive policies had been tested for 18 years already and it's 
clear that they've achieved nothing so far," concluded the minister.

Fernandez - one of the main promoters of the decriminalization ruling 
- - criticized Civic Coalition leader Elisa Carrio, who said on 
Saturday that Fernandez "should always be suspected," as she warned 
about the links between drug trafficking and politics.

"Carrio is crazy," said Fernandez. "It's good that everyone suspects 
me in order to control my work at the office, but I'm not suspicious 
about Carrio. I'm sure she worked for the military dictatorship in 
1975, sharing meals with those who were murdering people," he added.

"Drug trafficking in Argentina is strongly linked to politics. We 
should always suspect  Anibal Fernandez," Carrio said on Saturday.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom