US report knocks T&T war on drugs; not enough political support
By Joel Julien email@example.com
Story Created: Mar 17, 2013 at 10:49 PM ECT
INSUFFICIENT support from the political leadership of Trinidad and Tobago has caused the fight against narcotics in this country to be more challenging, the United States Department of State's 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report has stated.
"The 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) is an annual report by the Department of State to Congress prepared in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act. It describes the efforts of key countries to attack all aspects of the international drug trade in Calendar Year 2012. Volume I covers drug and chemical control activities. Volume II covers money laundering and financial crimes," the Department of State's official website, www.state.gov
The report was also critical of several other Caribbean countries, particularly Jamaica and Guyana in their war on drug trafficking.
"The entities and individuals working to combat narcotics in Trinidad and Tobago face considerable challenges and insufficient support from political leadership," the report stated in its conclusion for this country's review.
"Additional reforms are necessary to expedite case prosecution, revise outdated laws, and establish an evidence-based criminal justice system as fundamental prerequisites for raising conviction rates and deterring traffickers," it stated.
The US Department of State noted that beside the lack of support by the political heads there are also concerns that there is "insufficient interagency co-operation and information sharing".
"Barriers to interagency communication persist as supply-side operational units only work together on specific cases and do not trust one another due to allegations and rumours of corruption," the report stated.
"Operational units are also heavily dependent upon international donors for physical assets such as cars, computers or tactical equipment that repeatedly go unfunded by government budget streams," the Department of State report noted.
This country was described as having "porous borders" with direct transportation routes to Europe, West Africa, Canada and the United States making it an "ideal location for cocaine and marijuana transshipment".
"The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has long struggled to effectively coordinate and adequately fund its counter-narcotics efforts," the report sated.
Overall seizures and interdiction of drugs dropped in 2012 compared to 2011, the US Department of State report noted.
Law enforcement entities in this country seized 146.3 kilogrammes of cocaine and 2.26 metric tonnes of marijuana last year and made five major seizures at seaports during the year, the report stated.
"National seizures and interdictions, however, were down for the year in comparison to 2011, while trends in importation, production and usage are conjectured to have remained static," it stated.
"The root cause for the decrease in seizures is unknown, but may be attributable to cyclical variations in trafficking methodologies which commonly result in seizure reductions for a period of time," it stated.
The US Department of State reported that narcotics prosecutions, convictions and extraditions were low in relation to the scale of drug trafficking in this country.
"While 4,027 people were arrested for possession and another 468 for trafficking, only 58 small scale traffickers were convicted during the year," the report stated.
The report stated that the Government did not encourage nor facilitate the production and distribution of drugs.
"The Government of Trinidad and Tobago neither encourages nor facilitates illicit production or distribution of drugs nor the laundering of proceeds from the sale of illicit drugs," it stated.
"No charges of drug related corruption were filed against senior government officials in 2012," it stated.
The US Department of State, however, called on the government take "concrete steps" to address the country's narcotics control efforts.
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Francis Joseph, the adviser to National Security Minister Jack Warner, both said they had not seen the US Department of State report when contacted yesterday.
They, however, said comments will be made on the findings today.