Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence

Memorandum from the Afghan Drugs Inter-Departmental Unit (ADIDU)


  1.  Drugs are one of the gravest threats to the long term security, development and effective governance of Afghanistan. The threat from drugs to Afghanistan's reconstruction and development ranks alongside the threat from the Taleban. The opium trade accounts for more than 30% of Afghanistan's total economy and drug related crime and corruption are rife and permeate all levels of society.

  2.  The UK supports the implementation of the Afghan government's National Drug Control Strategy (NDCS) and its four priorities (targeting the trafficker, strengthening and diversifying legal rural livelihoods; reducing demand and developing state institutions). There are already signs of decreasing cultivation in areas where there is access to governance, security and development, such as parts of the north and the centre of the country. Progress is also being made in other areas:

    —  The last 18 months has seen: Vital counter narcotics (CN) legislation passed; over 350 traffickers convicted; and increased drugs related seizures.

    —  Over 22,000 community projects financed and over 16,000 community development councils established.

    —  $283 million community grants dispersed, 9,000 km roads reconstructed, and micro-finance loans given to over 300,000 Afghans.

    —  Drug treatment centres operating in several provinces including Helmand and Kandahar.

    —  $87.1 million committed to the CN Trust Fund and efforts to build Afghan institutions continue.

  3.  But in the South, security challenges, insurgent activity and the lack of extension of rule of law continue to present serious obstacles toward poppy elimination. Both the drug traffickers and the Taleban have a common interest in resisting Afghan government authority and international forces. There are indications of extensive financial and logistical links between Taleban and traffickers at all levels. A recent raid by Afghan counter narcotics forces on a laboratory found an insurgent training manual and weapons.


  4.  The drugs trade feeds on and contributes to insecurity in Afghanistan and the region. ISAF support to CN is outlined in the CN Annex to the NATO Operational Plan. ISAF can provide support to CN operations, such as training of Afghan counter narcotics forces and in extremis support (eg medical) to their operations within means and capabilities. They can also help the Afghan government explain their polices to the population. But they do not play a direct role on CN or take part in eradication.


  5.  Eradication is one of the eight pillars of the NDCS. The NDCS recognises that eradication plays an important role in injecting risk into the system and acting as a deterrent to planting poppy. The NDCS also makes clear, as has President Karzai, that eradication is a job for the Afghan government, should be ground based and targeted where there is access to legal livelihoods. Eradication on its own will not solve the problem. It needs to be balanced with measures to interdict drugs, bring criminals to justice, build institutions and encourage development of rural communities to provide alternatives for poppy farmers.

  6.  The UK provides support to the planning, monitoring and targeting work of Afghan eradication forces. The UK has helped the Afghan authorities map those areas where people have access to legal rural livelihoods. These target areas are determined by a set of criteria that take into account a wide range of factors. In addition to rural livelihoods projects, the criteria include: distance to markets, water availability, agricultural diversity, population density, extension of government, access to non-farm income and credit. They also include local security conditions, based on ISAF assessments.

  7.  There has been some resistance to eradication efforts. But in Helmand, there is no evidence to suggest that the resistance met by the Centrally Directed Afghan Eradication Force (AEF) came as a result of them being mistaken for ISAF forces. Neither do we know of any incidents in which it is believed that ISAF troops were attacked because they were mistaken for the AEF. The eradication campaign is accompanied by a carefully worded information operation, which explains who the AEF are and what they are there to do.


  8.  The Committee was briefed on the Afghan Drugs Inter-departmental Unit on 7 March 2006. The British Embassy Drugs Team (BEDT) was established in 2003. It had approximately 20 staff by the end of 2006. As part of the enhancement of the Embassy in Kabul, the BEDT has been split into two teams—a CN Team and a Rule of Law Team. Both are overseen by a Counsellor who reports to the Ambassador.

  9.  The Counter Narcotics Team is responsible for co-ordinating the UK's work to support the NDCS, in particular the delivery under three of the four key priorities—institution building, strengthening and diversifying rural livelihoods and demand reduction. The team works closely with DFID (it has DFID staff within it) and supports the wider counter narcotics information effort. It also supports the Afghan government on the targeting and planning of eradication and plays a key liaison role with the wider international community, especially ISAF. A key element of the team's work is to support the Afghan National Development Strategy and ensure that counter narcotics is mainstreamed throughout.

  10.  The creation of the Rule of Law team recognised the need for the UK to play an active role in not only the counter narcotics law enforcement and criminal justice system, but also the wider rule of law system in Afghanistan. For Counter Narcotics, this team supports delivery of the NDCS" key priority of targeting the traffickers, which includes support for the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan, working closely with SOCA and international partners. HMRC have also deployed a team of trainers and mentors to support this work. The concept is to support the Afghan Criminal Justice Task Force by training and mentoring investigators, prosecutors, judges and prison staff and providing them with the necessary facilities. The team will also work on the wider rule of law agenda.

2 May 2007

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