Pubdate: Fri, 19 Nov 1999
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Author: Dr Alex Wodak
Note: The author is the President of the Australian Drug Law Reform
Foundation in Darlinghurst.


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

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, Darlinghurst.

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