UNs top counternarcotics official calls for international arrest warrants against Afghan drug

During his trip, Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), met with President Hamid Karzai and proposed measures that would pave the way for warrants to be issued on the basis of global treaties, such as the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances. Mr. Costa complimented President Karzai for his political accomplishments during 2004, especially the appointment of a new Cabinet committed to fighting opium cultivation and trafficking. “As Afghanistan is taking the right measures on eradication of poppy fields,” Mr. Costa said, “it is encouraging to see that the magnitude and gravity of the drug problem, which threatens stability and development in the country and beyond, is recognized by all of Afghanistan’s partners.” While it is too early to project production levels for the forthcoming harvest, anecdotal evidence points to some reduction in the cultivation compared to 2004, according to UNODC.“We have to win the farmers on our side for the years to come, and not only in 2005,” said Mr. Costa, calling for development assistance to farmers in order to off-set their income losses.UNODC encourages joint efforts by the Government of Afghanistan and its partners to provide mutual legal assistance and create conditions for extradition of major traffickers. In a separate development, the chief UN envoy for Afghanistan, Jean Arnault, on Saturday called on the international community and the Government to act on recommendations by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) on the sensitive subject of how to address past abuses.“The clamor for justice and change that transpires through these pages does not surprise us,” he said. “For three years, UNAMA has been a close witness to these sentiments, which are pervasive throughout the country. They are consonant with the enthusiastic participation in the presidential election last year, the massive popular support for disarmament and reintegration, and the urgent plea for an end to corruption and violence.”The Government and the international community should take account of the recommendations in the AIHRC’s report, entitled “A Call for Justice,” in order to foster security and national unity, he said. The report urges ending all abuses and corruption, ascertaining the truth about Afghanistan’s suffering over the past 30 years, compensating the victims, and prosecuting those guilty of the most egregious crimes.The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), “for its part, is ready to work with the Government, the AIHRC and other partners to make what can become an important contribution to the consolidation of a just and trusted state in Afghanistan,” Mr. Arnault said. read more

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