US releases annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report

The United States Department of State has released its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. The report, released earlier this month, seeks to track the War on illicit Drugs. Some 22 countries made the list, including Belize. And while we did not make the most spurned category OF Countries that “failed demonstrably”, such as Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela ,  the report states that Belize continues to be a major transshipment country for vlcsnap-2013-03-19-19h25m54s248cocaine and precursor chemicals used in the production of synthetic drugs.  In Belize, 2012 showed a continued rise in Drug trafficking and drug-related violence, threatening BOTH the security of Belizean citizens and the integrity of the country’s borders. The report states that Citizen security deteriorated countrywide in 2012, citing the record breaking 145 homicides which occurred last year. It highlighted the Corozal District which experienced a 120-percent increase in murders compared to 2011. According to the report, the Government appointed eight-member committee continues to explore the possibility of decriminalizing marijuana in small quantities, according to the report, and intends to evaluate proposals from the public and make recommendations in 2013.  Interestingly, it appears that just the discussion of Decriminalization of marijuana has had an effect on use as The National Drug Abuse Control Council  (NDACC) reported that there was an increase in the use of marijuana in 2012. The report states “Belize generally tolerates the use of cannabis.”  The reports also says that Belize is susceptible to the transshipment of cocaine because firstly, it is bordered by countries where the drug trade is controlled by organized and violent drug cartels. Secondly, Belize has Large stretches of remote, unpopulated jungles, And thirdly, a  relatively unpatrolled coastline including hundreds of small islands and atolls. But beside our geography, the report cites what it calls “a facilitating environment for illegal activities“ which has been created by a lack of resources, weak law enforcement institutions,  an ineffective judicial system, and inadequate compensation for civil service employees.  Belize’s overall counternarcotics efforts suffer deficiencies in intelligence gathering, analysis, and capacity of the judicial sector, in addition to corruption and inadequate political will. Additionally, Belize lacks laws that specifically address narcotics-related corruption and no one has been charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act which has been in effect since 2000. Belize’s criminal justice system requires improved efficiency, and better resources and training are required for prosecutors in the Director of Public Prosecution’s office and police department. The United States says it will maintain its strong partnership with Belize in its fight against drug trafficking organizations but that the deterioration in crime will continue if serious measures are not taken by Belize’s government.

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