UN: Afghanistan should hit drug lords
Christian Gynna Oguz
By RAHIM FAIEZ
March 5, 2008
KABUL, Afghanistan – The Afghan government should target big drug traffickers — some with links to government officials — who are fueling the country’s multibillion-dollar illicit drug trade, which has reached unprecedented levels, the United Nations said Wednesday.
Christian Gynna Oguz, country director for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, said Afghanistan remains the world’s largest producer of opium and heroin and that drug lords and corrupt government officials operate with impunity.
“Powerful individuals are able to compromise the justice system through bribes and corruption, as well as implicit and explicit threats,” she said in a statement. “Such situations can no longer be tolerated if Afghans are to have the type of judicial system and functioning institutional structures that they deserve.”
Afghanistan supplies 93 percent of the world’s illicit opium, the main ingredient of heroin, and Taliban rebels fighting U.S.-led forces receive up to $100 million from the drug trade, U.N. officials have said.
“The illicit cultivation of opium poppy in Afghanistan has reached an unprecedented level,” the U.N. drug office said in a statement.
Farmers cultivated a record 477,000 acres of opium in 2007, a 14 percent increase over the previous year. Total production, spurred by unusually high rainfall, increased even further, by 34 percent, it said.
“The government must therefore widen its effort to include the fight against drug traders who profit the most from the illicit opium industry and who collectively earn more than $4 billion,” Gynna Oguz said.
Gynna Oguz also called on the government to stamp out “telephone justice, in which powerful individuals, inside or outside the government, improperly intervene in this process with a simple phone call.”
“There are telephone calls being made to release suspects that have been arrested, and this ‘telephone justice’ … is unacceptable because it undermines the trust in the government and its institutions and it must be stopped,” she said.