The role of the South American Agreement on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in the fight against illicit drug trafficking
Activities of ASEP
The structure and operation of ASEP
ASEP activities directly connected with the suppression of illicit trafficking in drugs
ASEP activities indirectly connected with measures to combat illicit trafficking in drugs
Author: C. N. CAGLIOTTI
Pages: 83 to 95
Creation Date: 1983/01/01
The role of the South American Agreement on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in the fight against illicit drug traffickingC. N. CAGLIOTTI Executive Secretary, Permanent Secretariat of the South American Agreement on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The States Parties to the South American Agreement on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (ASEP), which entered into force on 26 March 1976, decided to co-ordinate measures to achieve close cooperation and the efficient exchange of information between States Parties to the Agreement in the fight against drug abuse and illicit drug traffic. To this end, ASEP organizes regional and international training courses, seminars and conferences on the subject of illicit drug trafficking ; facilitates permanent exchange of information between the States Parties to the Agreement regarding drug law enforcement techniques and the methods resorted to by illicit traffickers; and maintains close technical co-operation with the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), the United Nations and other in international agencies concerned with drug control. In addition, ASEP is involved in a number of activities that indirectly contribute to the suppression of illicit drug trafficking such as : the establishment of national d rug control co-ordinating bodies ; co-operation between States in the area of legislative measures conducive to drug control; and the operation of a computerized system designed to facilitate contacts between the various drug law enforcement agencies of the States Parties to ASEP.
The South American Agreement on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (ASEP) was adopted at Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 27 April 1973 by the South American Plenipotentiary Conference on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and was based on the recommendations of the South American Governmental Expert Meeting which had been held at Buenos Aires from 29 November to 4 December 1972.
The Agreement entered into force on 26 March 1976, and at the present time 10 South American States are Parties thereto : Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The States Parties to the Agreement consider that the gravity of the problem of drug abuse demands the constant attention of all the countries of the region, guided by common principles and objectives, while recognizing that the size, characteristics and scope of the problem are different in each country.
For this reason they have decided to co-ordinate measures to achieve close co-operation and efficient exchange of information in the fight against the abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
ASEP is concerned with illicit drug trafficking in a context that covers all aspects of the drug abuse problem, such as reduction of demand, health monitoring and research. Special emphasis is placed on certain types of activities, which are highlighted below.
ASEP endeavours to control the licit drug trade through the strict implementation of international treaties and the standardization of regulations for the licit distribution of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances along the lines indicated in the Second Additional Protocol to the Agreement.
The main points in suppressing illicit traffic are co-operation between national law enforcement authorities, adoption of the necessary measures to ensure that law enforcement staff attain the highest possible degree of efficiency and training and recourse to the facilities offered by the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO/Interpol) through its national branches for the exchange of information and co-operation at the specialized police level.
This includes giving special support to any scientific research activity that leads directly or indirectly to the advancement of knowledge on drug abuse, its causes and its consequences.
ASEP agreed to promote plans for intensive education at the community level, using methods suitable to the specific problems and social and cultural characteristics of each country, giving priority attention to children and adolescents and emphasizing the family, teachers, students and social welfare, under the supervision of qualified experts.
The criminal legislation of the States Parties to the Agreement is being studied in order to be harmonized in accordance with the detailed guidelines in the First Additional Protocol to the Agreement.
ASEP carries out its activities through the bodies described below.
The Conference of the South American Agreement, a permanent body with international juridical status, meets annually. Its main functions are:
To formulate the policies to be followed for the effective implementation of the Agreement;
To make recommendations within the scope of the Agreement to the States Parties thereto;
To determine the activities to be carried out by the Permanent Secretariat in the exercise of its duties;
To establish the standing and ad hoc technical committees necessary for dealing with the matters forming the subject of the Agreement.
The Permanent Secretariat of the South American Agreement, the executive organ of the Agreement, is directed by an Executive Secretary who is a national of one of the States Parties and to the Agreement and is elected by the Conference.
The task of the Permanent Secretariat is to facilitate the co-ordination of activities aimed at achieving the objectives of the Agreement. The principal functions of the Permanent Secretariat are :
To ensure compliance with the Agreement and its additional protocols and, for this purpose, to formulate recommendations to the States Parties of the Agreement ;
To organize and take part in courses, congresses and seminars on topics and problems connected with narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and also with personnel training, observing a system of rotation with respect to participation. The Secretariat co-ordinates this work with the programmes of drug abuse control of the United Nations and other international organizations;
To collect, from the various competent authorities of the States Parties to the Agreement, such technical information as is necessary for carrying out its mission;
To maintain contact with the international agencies responsible for combating drug abuse and, where necessary, to establish such co- ordination as is considered necessary, particularly with regard to article 38 bis of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 as amended by the Protocol of 1972;
To keep the States Parties to the Agreement informed, through their respective competent bodies, of the resolutions adopted and the action taken to implement them.
There are five technical committees on: legislation, suppression of illicit traffic, control of licit trade, preventive education, and treatment and rehabilitation. The committees work in collaboration with the Permanent Secretariat, all the countries are represented on them and they are composed of persons qualified in their respective fields. The committees are convened by the Executive Director at a place determined in accordance with the interests of the States and the nature of the activities to be carried out. Their task is to prepare studies and recommendations for joint activities or programmes that, following their approval and funding by the Conference, are to be implemented by the Permanent Secretariat or recommended to the competent agencies of the States Parties to the Agreement or to other international organizations.
The Permanent Secretariat has its headquarters in Buenos Aires. The Headquarters Agreement was signed between the Argentine Government and the South American Agreement on 16 October 1981.
The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, at its plenary meeting held on 30 April 1980, granted the Permanent Secretariat, under resolution 1980/117, the status of observer at sessions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
The Second Conference of States Parties to the Agreement was held from 6 to 9 October 1980 at Guayaquil, Ecuador, with the participation of the Executive Director of the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control, the Deputy Director of the Division of Narcotic Drugs and the Secretary- General of Interpol. The participation and collaboration of these organizations constituted a powerful incentive to intraregional work and contributed to closer relations between countries by providing an opportunity to team of their problems at first hand.
Following a proposal by the Technical Commission on the Suppression of Illicit Traffic, the Conference recommended an increase in the number and frequency of training courses, seminars and conferences between the States Parties on the Subject of illicit trafficking at international and regional levels..." and also "a permanent exchange of know-how regarding enforcement techniques and the methods resorted to by illegal traffickers", with an acceptance of the offer of technical assistance from Interpol (resolution 11/4 of the Second Conference).
With that mandate, the Permanent Secretariat participated in the Meeting on Drug Law Enforcement Training, held at Interpol headquarters on 16 and 17 June 1980 and organized by the Division of Narcotic Drugs in co-operation with Interpol and the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC), where it proposed a specific regional training programme. The proposal was accepted in recommendation 7, which states:
"The Meeting considered in depth the proposal put forward by the Secretariat of the South American Agreement for a specific regional training initiative. It was agreed that this proposal necessitated strong support from all Governments and international agencies concerned. This might be treated as a major pilot project which could help to forward the regional and international training objectives of the Meeting and which could be of value if applied in other parts of the world."
The recommendations of the Meeting, contained in E/CN.7/660 (Part One)/Add.2 of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at its twenty-ninth regular session held in February 1981 at Vienna, were adopted without comment.
The Permanent Secretariat participated in the Eighth American Regional Conference of Interpol, which was held at Santiago, Chile, from 16 to 20 March 1981 , where it reiterated ASEP's interest in the specialized, inter-disciplinary training of police and security forces and discussed in detail the proposed pilot project.
The Third Conference of States Parties to the South American Agreement, held at Brasilia, Brazil, from 17 to 20 November 1981 , adopted a number of important resolutions regarding the suppression of illicit trafficking:
It approved an Argentine proposal for a drug law enforcement training course to be held at Buenos Aires during the second half of 1982. It urged the national authorities to take the necessary steps to ensure the participation of drug law enforcement officials in the course and instructed the Technical Commission on the Suppression of Illicit Traffic to select the venues and determine the curricula of future training courses (resolution III/l6);
For the purpose of facilitating the exchange of in formation and co-operation among security forces, it entrusted the Permanent Secretariat with the task of preparing, updating and distributing a list of names, postal and telex addresses and telephone numbers of agencies in the States Parties to the Agreement responsible for the suppression of illegal trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, the list to be compiled on the basis of in formation made available by the States Parties to the Agreement (resolution III/l5-2).
From 8 to 11 June 1982, at the Permanent Secretariat's headquarters at Buenos Aires, the Technical Commission on the Suppression of Illicit Traffic held its first meeting, which was attended by representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru. That meeting considered the following agenda:
Application of the provision of the South American Agreement and the resolutions adopted at the Conferences of the States Parties to it regarding the suppression of illegal drug trafficking;
Training Seminar for Instructors in the Fight against Drug Abuse and Illicit Traffic, scheduled to be held at Buenos Aires from 9 to 20 August 1982.
After analyzing the characteristics and methods of the illegal traffic in drugs in their respective countries, the members of the Technical Commission concluded that both the eradication of coca and cannabis growing and the effective suppression of illicit drug traffic required the technical and economic assistance of interested countries and international agencies and that the matter should be considered in detail at the Fourth Conference of the States Parties to the Agreement.
Approval was given for the annotated timetable of activities for the training seminar to be held at Buenos Aires, and it was recommended that the participants in the seminar be subsequently assigned to training personnel in their countries of origin so that as many people as possible could be trained and information gained through the course could be passed on. It was also recommended that further such seminars be held in other countries for the purpose of analyzing the specific problems of those countries and of maintaining, with the necessary continuity, a permanent system of training with a view to establishing a South American regional training centre that would make use of the facilities and resources that already existed in the region. The representative of Peru stated that his country was willing to host the second seminar, scheduled for 1983, and indicated that he would submit a draft working agenda to the Fourth Conference of States Parties for its consideration.
The Technical Commission recommended that the form annexed to the "South American inventory of institutions working in the field of drug dependence'' (ASEP/SP/1) be used for the preparation by the Permanent Secretariat of the list of names, postal and telex addresses and telephone numbers of drug law enforcement agencies operating in the States Parties to the Agreement.
In accordance with the agenda item considered at the Technical Commission's first meeting, the Latin American Training Seminar for Instructors in the Fight Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Traffic was held at Buenos Aires from 9 to 20 August 1982.
The Seminar was co-sponsored by the South American Agreement through its Permanent Secretariat, the Government of Argentina through its National Commission on Drug Addiction and Narcotics, and the United Nations Division of Narcotic Drugs. Interpol contributed bibliographical material, which was used in the teaching process.
The participants received 31 documents containing information, special instructions, reports from the Economic and Social Council and the Division of Narcotic Drugs, international agreements and other publications for use as reference material in their countries of origin.
The work of the Seminar was of both a practical and theoretical nature, with the participants visiting the facilities of the following establishments : the Higher Academy of Police Studies, the National Centre for Social Reeducation, the Chemistry Laboratory Division of the Federal Police, the Data Centre of the National Gendarmerie, the Drug Addiction Division of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police, the Campo de Mayo Squad of the National Gendarmerie, the Port of Buenos Aires and the Customs Service School.
A total of 41 participants from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay took advantage of this pilot learning experience, an initiative true to the letter and to the spirit expressed by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1982/9 on "Concerted action against the illicit drug traffic in Central and South America and the Caribbean region".
During the period 5 to 12 October 1982, the Permanent Secretariat attended, as an observer, the Fifty-First Meeting of the General Assembly of Interpol at Torremolinos, Spain, where it informed the participants of the launching of the seminar-based training programme and provided details on the Buenos Aires seminar and on the seminar scheduled to be held at Lima.
By a unanimous vote of the 81 representatives present and voting, the General Assembly of Interpol adopted resolution AGN/5 l /RES/4, in which it recommended that :
"Interpol Secretariat co-operate with the ASEP Secretariat and with the other international agencies interested in concrete assistance in the South American region with respect to the organization of seminars for the training of security agency personnel for the purpose of enhancing the effectiveness of the measures taken against the illicit drug traffic by making the greatest possible use of the services and specialized know-how available in the South American region, with the support of interested extra-regional countries."
At the Fourth Conference of the States Parties to the Agreement, held from 23 to 26 November 1982 at Buenos Aires, the participants studied the proposal of the Technical Commission on the Suppression of Illicit Traffic to hold the training seminars on a continuing basis in the countries in the region, with the emphasis to be on the analysis of the specific problems of each country or group of countries and the establishment of a permanent training system relying on the existing resources of the region.
The Conference approved, in resolution IV/5, the agenda proposed by the Peruvian delegation which called for the holding at Lima of the Second
Latin American Training Seminar for Instructors in the Fight against Drug Abuse and Illicit Traffic, at which the principal focus of attention would be on the problems associated with producing countries.
It was decided that the Seminar would be held at Lima from 5 to 14 September 1983, under the co-sponsorship of the United Nations Division of Narcotic Drugs and ASEP, with the co-operation of ICPO/Interpol, CCC and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The Seminar was scheduled with the following programme:
Reports of participants on trends in drug abuse in their respective countries and an analysis of trends in drug abuse and illicit trafficking in the South American countries;
The illicit traffic in narcotic drugs including : the situation in America and Europe ; production zones ; traffic routes and methods ; pricing of drugs and precursors in the production zones ; traffic and drug addiction ; drug consumption ; and diversion from licit to illicit channels;
Police operational procedures including : narcotics intelligence ; controlled deliveries ; and presentation of drug-related cases before the court;
Financial aspects, such as information on the financial operations and assets linked to illicit traffic in drugs;
Role of the forensic science laboratory in the fight against the illicit traffic in drugs;
Liaison systems between the police forces of the South American countries;
Automatic data-retrieval systems and their use in drug law enforcement;
Legal measures applied in individual countries to combat illicit drug traffic;
National anti-drug plans currently in effect and their relation to international strategies and policies;
The United Nations system : the Division of Narcotic Drugs, the International Narcotics Control board and the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control;
The South American Agreement, an intergovernmental regional agency : organization, scope, mission and projects;
International organizations in the fight against the illicit drug traffic (ICPO/Interpol and CCC) and other agencies (DEA and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Canada));
Evaluation and recommendations ; discussion regarding future regional seminars.
In accordance with the antecedents mentioned above, the Second Latin American Training Seminar for Instructors in the Fight Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Traffic was held at Lima from 5 to 14 September 1983.
There were 26 participants from the following countries : Argentina (6), Bolivia (1), Brazil (1), Chile (1), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (1), Ecuador (1), Panama (1), Paraguay (1), Peru (10) and Venezuela (2). In order to attend the seminar, participants from the States Parties to the South American Agreement, except those from Argentina, received financial assistance from the United Nations.
In addition to Peruvian officers there were lecturers, especially invited, from the Division of Narcotic Drugs, ICPO/Interpol, Procuraduría General de la República de México, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, DEA and the South American Agreement. The Peruvian Government, the Division of Narcotic Drugs and the Permanent Secretariat of ASEP were in charge of the technical co-ordination of the seminar.
The participants received 55 documents with special instructions for the work of the seminar. Practical activities were carried out at the headquarters of the Policía de Investigaciones del Perú.
The Permanent Secretariat of the Agreement participated as an observer in ICPO/Interpol's Ninth Regional American Conference, which was held from 14 to 17 March 1983 in Lima, Peru, and in the First Inter-Regional Meeting for Heads of Drug Law Enforcement Agencies for South America and Europe, held on 18 and 19 March 1983 in the same city.
At these meetings, the Secretariat explained the Agreement's work in the field of instructor training, its activities directly connected with measures to combat illicit trafficking in drugs and also its activities that, while not directly so connected, facilitated the work of the security forces.
Under article 2 of the South American Agreement, States agree "to create or designate, in each country, an organ to act as the co-ordinating and central body, within that country, relating to all matters pertaining to the abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances'', so as to facilitate not only activities in the country concerned but also regional co-ordination and co-operation.
The following States Parties to the Agreement already have such coordinating and central bodies:
Argentina:National Committee on Drug Addiction and Narcotic Drugs (CONATON)
Bolivia:National Council for the Control of Drug Traffic
Brazil:Federal Council on Narcotic Drugs
Colombia:National Council on Narcotic Drugs
Ecuador: Inter-Institutional Committee for the Co-ordination of Activities for the Control of the Illicit Narcotic Drug Traffic
Peru:Multi-sectoral Committee for Drug Control (COMUCOD)
Venezuela:Committee Against Drug Abuse (CCUID)
The co-ordination of activities at the national level is to the advantage of all the sectors involved in the drug abuse control problem: prevention, treatment, health monitoring, and suppression of illicit trafficking.
In response to the provisions of article 1 (d)(harmonization of penal and civil norms) and 1 (e)(standardization of administrative provisions governing retail sales) and the detailed guidelines of the .Second Additional Protocol, a data bank has been established covering the laws in effect in the States Parties to the Agreement. Two studies have been published :
Legislation in Force with Respect to Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in the States Parties to the South American Agreement - First Part, which consists of three chapters that provide a systematic presentation of the information available in the data bank covering legal provisions relating to international treaties and also domestic legislation currently in force. The final chapter is devoted to a comparison of the criminal provisions of the First Additional Protocol to the Agreement with the criminal legislation of the States Parties ; .
Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Subject to Health Monitoring in the States Parties to the Agreement, which is, in effect, the first step in the work of systematizing the health legislation of States. It includes a comparative table covering the substances subject to health monitoring in the 1 0 States Parties to the Agreement and in the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
The work on systematization of the criminal and health-related laws in the South American countries will constitute the basis for standard legislation to facilitate a coherent response in all these countries to the problem of illicit drug traffic and will expedite extradition proceedings and the conclusion of treaties in cases where none exist at present.
One of the recommendations adopted at ICPO/Interpol's Ninth Regional American Conference in Lima states that:
"There is a need to develop standard legislation throughout the region so as to ensure uniformity and effectiveness in the measures taken and results achieved in the effort to stamp out illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs.''
At the South American Documentation Centre on Drug Dependence, which operates at the headquarters of the Permanent Secretariat, work has begun to diversify the applications of the Centre's computer facilities by designing a system that will automate the compilation and editing of the South American Inventory of Institutions Working in the Field of Drug Dependence, which, as from l 982, includes those security agencies of the States Parties to the Agreement that are working to combat illicit drug trafficking in the South American region, as recommended at the First Meeting of the Technical Commission on the Suppression of Illicit Traffic.
The main emphasis in the activities of the Agreement's Permanent Secretariat has been on the training of law enforcement instructors at the regional level, with the co-operation of specialized international agencies and within the framework of recommendation 7 of the Meeting on Drug Law Enforcement Training, held at ICPO/Interpol's headquarters on l 6 and 1 7 June 1980 ; the Economic and Social Council resolution 1982/9 entitled "Concerted action against the illicit drug traffic in Central and South America and the Caribbean region", and resolution AGN/5 l/RES/4 of the Fifty-First Meeting of the General Assembly of ICPO/Interpol.
From 9 to 20 August 1982, Buenos Aires was the venue of the First Latin American Training Seminar for Instructors in the Fight against Drug Abuse and Illicit Traffic, at which 41 participants from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay received theoretical and practical training. The Second Seminar was held at Lima, Peru, from 5 to 14 September 1983 and focused on the special problems associated with the producing countries.
There are also plans to hold further seminars of this kind in other States Parties to the Agreement for the purpose of analyzing the specific problems of each country or group of countries with a view to establishing a permanent system of training and to ensuring the continuity of that system.
The other activities of the Agreement that indirectly contribute to the suppression of illicit drug trafficking comprise : the designation in each country of an agency to co-ordinate or centralize all aspects of the drug problem for the purpose of facilitating national programmes and regional co-operation; a comparison of individual countries' criminal and health legislation so as to facilitate the conclusion of extradition treaties; and the design of a computerized system to automate the compilation of the South American inventory of institutions working in the field of drug dependence, as a means of facilitating formal and in formal contacts between the various drug law enforcement agencies of the region.