Pubdate: Tue, 06 Jul 1999
Date: 07/06/1999
Source: Canberra Times (Australia)
Author: Albert J. A. M. Nooij

Mr Parrett's statement (in his capacity as convener of Make Illicit
Drugs Socially Unacceptable, Letters, 28 June) that the Dutch policy
of distinguishing between soft and hard drugs has been an abject
failure cannot be allowed to pass.

As a result of our drug policy the number of addicts of hard drugs is
much lower in the Netherlands than in countries with a more repressive
policy, such as the United States and Australia. Even more
importantly, the population of heroin addicts is ageing as few new
people are induced to use hard drugs.

Clean-needle programs and safe-injection rooms have contributed to an
extremely low rate of HIV and hepatitis infections amongst hard-drug
users. That a large amount of illegal drugs found in other European
countries has a Dutch connection should not come as a surprise nor can
it be attributed to Dutch permissiveness. The port of Rotterdam is the
largest in the world and serves as the main port for much of the
industry in Germany and northern France. Dutch road hauling companies
are responsible for 40 per cent of all road transport in the European
Union. Obviously drug traffickers will attempt to use these same gateways.

Dutch law-enforcement officials, however, are doing their utmost to
stop trafficking and have scored some impressive successes in their
battle against the production and trade in trafficking of synthetic

In 1998 35 facilities engaged in the production of ecstasy and
amphetamines have been discovered by interdisciplinary teams in which
the police work closely together with Customs, the
fiscal-investigation service and the economic-fraud service.

ALBERT J. A. M. NOOIJ, Ambassador of the Netherlands