Pubdate: Fri, 19 Nov 1999
Date: 11/19/1999
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Author: Dr Alex Wodak

The recent speech by Justice James Wood in Ashfield Uniting Church was
a revelation (Herald, November 15).

Surprisingly, Justice Wood did not refer to the very real threat to
judicial integrity resulting from attempts to further intensify law
enforcement responses to illicit drugs.

Examples of the corrupting effects on the state and judiciary of
zealous attempts to suppress cocaine trafficking are provided in the
remarkable book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, News of a Kidnapping.  When
judges in Colombia were privately offered a choice by major
traffickers of argenta (silver) or plombo (lead), the whole judicial
system was put at at serious risk.

The inevitable counter-measures eroded precious commitments to human
rights and due legal process.

As Justice Wood quite rightly emphasised, whatever new arrangements
are made to more effectively respond to illicit drugs in the future,
"the strictest regime of the law for those who import, manufacture and
supply drugs" must continue.

But corruption of the state or judiciary will remain a serious risk
while law enforcement continues to be inappropriately required to
shoulder most of the burden of society's response to illicit drugs.

Dr Alex Wodak,
President, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation,