4 March 2005
Drug Chiefs from Afghanistan and Colombia Meet with UNODC Executive Director in Vienna
VIENNA, 4 March (UN Information Service) -- General Mohammed Daud, Afghanistans Deputy Minister of Interior for Counter Narcotics, and General Luis Alberto Gómez, Colombias Director of Anti-Narcotics Police, yesterday held a joint press briefing in Vienna, hosted by Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Afghanistan and Colombia are, respectively, the worlds leading suppliers of opium/heroin and coca/cocaine. In 2003, Afghanistan produced more than approximately 76 per cent of the worlds opium supply, while Colombia produced 67 per cent of the global supply of cocaine. In 2003, UNODC worked with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to develop a 10-year plan designed to eliminate poppy production by 2013. In order to achieve that goal, Mr. Costa has recommended the reform of Afghanistans law enforcement and judiciary, and efforts designed to raise awareness among Afghan farmers about the dangers of poppy cultivation.
In January 2005, Mr. Costa met with President Hamid Karzai and other Afghan officials in Kabul. He left Afghanistan confident that the Government was willing to take the necessary steps to eliminate poppy production in Afghanistan. Mr. Costa believes that General Daud in particular is viewed as a legitimate leader by the citizens of Afghanistan, given the visible role he played in the 1980s war for Afghan independence.
General Daud has been fighting for Afghanistans future for decades, and to many of the citizens of Afghanistan, he is a hero and a patriot. We expect him to play a key role in eliminating Afghanistans poppy fields, said Mr. Costa. This was General Dauds first visit to any nation west of Pakistan.
General Luis Alberto Gómez has been a leading figure in Colombias battle against drug trafficking and production since 1975. Since 1999, Colombia has decreased its coca cultivation by nearly 50 per cent, from 160,100 hectares to 86,000 hectares in 2003. United Nations officials attribute Colombias success to General Gómezs hard line stance against drug trafficking. Under General Gómezs leadership, two of Colombias most notorious drug traffickers have been extradited to the United States of America for trial in federal courts. Mr. Costa has called for the creation of similar legal mechanisms that would allow extradition of Afghan drug traffickers for prosecution in Member States.
According to Mr. Costa, General Gómez, along with President Uribe, has been a driving force in reducing cocaine production in Colombia. Production in Colombia went unchecked for many years, and the fact that General Gómez has been able to convince many farmers to stop growing coca is dramatic testimony to his leadership and determination -- this is a man who knows how to get the job done.
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For more information, contact:
Kathleen Millar, Deputy Spokesperson, UNODC
Tel: (+43 1) 26060-5629