Pubdate: Tue, 06 Jul 1999
Source: Canberra Times (Australia)
Author: Albert J. A. M. Nooij, Ambassador of the Netherlands 


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 drugs.

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

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