26 May 2011

Immigrants and drug trafficking, politically incorrect?

Most of the unsavory right-wing political parties now close to or in power in the EU would not agree. They readily link immigration to all kinds of crime. Statistics about the ethnic make-up of prison populations are easy pickings for them because prisons are rarely full of respectable white Europeans.


Multicultural society hasn’t worked. At least that is what Mrs. Merkel tells us. It would be more accurate to say that at least two generations of politicians have made a shameful mess of it. For the last ten years the European Commission’s Directorate General for Justice and Home Affairs has laid siege to the nimbyism of the Member States on this issue, urging them to get real and come to grips with a phenomenon that can’t simply be  stopped, and to deal with it in a way that is most profitable to “us” and to “them”. Some progress has been made but the EU still lacks anything resembling a common immigration policy.


As with drug policy, there is a form of decriminalisation of (illegal) immigration going on, and for the same reasons: the problem is now beyond the control of the authorities. This leaves many immigrants in a legal and civic limbo and therefore cut off from mainstream society and its services. Many more established immigrants, even second or third generation, are parked in grim social housing with few facilities and with little hope for young people to get a job. Just one example: youth unemployment in one ofBrusselsinner city immigrant areas stands at 50%. The main landmark on the edge of this quarter is the Commission’s steel and glass tower that houses its communication services. Such areas are the main recruitment grounds for the large and inexhaustible army of small drug dealers, starting at around twelve years old or even younger. They have nowhere else to go.


In my next post I will argue that most states inEuropeare in denial about this issue and that it is one of the most potent arguments for reviewing current drug laws ina wider context, taking in immigration  and inner city policies.

10:49 Posted by Carel Edwards in Drugs and politics | Permalink | Comments (1) |  Facebook

11 May 2011

Wikileaks and drug policies

Wikileaks has published cables on negotiations between the EU and the US on drug policies within the UN machinery dating back to 2009. For most non-specialists it is probably too obscure to get into. For those of you who know what harm reduction means and how important it is in the long road to replace simple prohibition by something less fundamentalist, read http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/01/09UNVIEVIENNA31.html. It gives a clear picture of (quite acceptable) diplomatic efforts to divide and pressurise the opposition. The sad thing is that they were not entirely unsuccessful in the end, mainly due to Sweden and Italy (and some other member states) breaking the EU consensus in the end. Not for the first time the EU dropped its pants before the whole world. On another occasion there was a counter-declaration led by Germany. When some Commission staff present were seen to applaud this I was taken aside by the Swedish delegate and told that this was unacceptable behaviour, that the the Commission was not supposed to have an opinion and that Sweden was considering making a complaint to Barroso. My reply was to encourage her to read the EU treaties on the subject and that I would serenely wait for the Commission's President to summon me to his presence. He never did. 

11:39 Posted by Carel Edwards in Drugs and politics | Permalink | Comments (1) |  Facebook

03 May 2011

Small US operation, not many dead...

The death of Bin Laden is no doubt a welcome element of closure to many of his victims. It is also the end of a man who gave one of the world's great religions a bad name. It is not however the end of Al Quaida, which has scattered like mercury from a broken thermometer to regroup in unlikely places. Nor does it mean that the West has won; Bin Laden's point was that ours is a decadent and immoral society; if we do not at least reflect on the difference between political assassination and "justice", as much of the media call his death, he may have had a point. The increasingly surreal situation of the Western military in Afghanistan should also remind us why the US went in there in the first place: to get Osama. I wonder if his death is also a comfort to all the American and European mothers of soldiers who died in Afghanistan.

23:44 Posted by Carel Edwards in Blog | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook