INCB: controversial statements on coca leaf

05 March 2008

mate de coca forbiddenRead here the full text of the controversial statements on coca leaf included in this year's Annual Report of the INCB. Some highlights:

> "The Board calls upon the Governments of Bolivia and Peru to initiate action without delay with a view to eliminating uses of coca leaf, including coca leaf chewing" and "each party to the Convention should establish as a criminal offence, when committed intentionally, the possession and purchase of coca leaf for personalconsumption".
> "The Board again calls on the Governments of Bolivia and Peru to consider amending their national legislation so as to abolish or prohibit activities that are contrary to the 1961 Convention, such as coca leaf chewing and the manufacture of mate de coca (coca tea)".

See also: Abolishing Coca Leaf Consumption? The INCB needs to perform a reality check, Transnational Institute Press release, March 5, 2008

mate de coca forbidden?

Excerpts on coca from the INCB Report 2007, embargoed until March 5, 2008 

Cultivation of coca bush and uses of coca leaf under the international drug control treaties

214. The Board is concerned that the cultivation of coca bush for purposes that are not in line with the 1961 Convention is continuing in some countries. Uses of coca leaves contrary to the provisions of the 1961 Convention are also continuing, and some of those uses are even being expanded.

215. The Board reminds all Governments concerned that coca leaf is a narcotic drug in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol. Governments should ensure that the production, export, import, distribution, use and possession of, as well as trade in, coca leaf are limited to medical and scientific purposes, just as they would be limited in the case of any other narcotic drug. In addition, coca leaves may also be used for the preparation of a flavouring agent that should not contain any alkaloids, and, to the extent necessary for such use, production, trade in and possession of such leaves may be permitted. Governments permitting the cultivation of coca bush should set up an agency to carry out certain functions, as required under articles 23 and 26 of the 1961 Convention.

216. The practice of chewing coca leaves continues in Bolivia and Peru and, on a limited scale, in some other countries. The Board wishes to point out that, within 25 years following the entry into force of the 1961 Convention, coca leaf chewing should have been abolished in those countries where it was taking place. As the 1961 Convention came into force in 1964, coca leaf chewing should have come to an end in 1989.

217. In addition, coca leaf is used in Bolivia and Peru for the manufacture and distribution of mate de coca (coca tea). Such use is also not in line with the provisions of the 1961 Convention. The Board again calls on the Governments of Bolivia and Peru to consider amending their national legislation so as to abolish or prohibit activities that are contrary to the 1961 Convention, such as coca leaf chewing and the manufacture of mate de coca (coca tea) and other products containing coca alkaloids for domestic use and export.

218. The Board reminds all Governments that importation of coca leaf for purposes other than medical and scientific purposes or the preparation of a flavouring agent is contrary to the provisions of the 1961 Convention.

219. The 1988 Convention requires Governments to establish as criminal offences under domestic law, when committed intentionally, activities involving coca leaf that are contrary to the provisions of the 1961 Convention. The activities include, among other things, the production, offering for sale, distribution, sale, delivery on any terms whatsoever, brokerage, dispatch, transport, importation or exportation of coca leaf contrary to the provisions of the 1961 Convention. Subject to its constitutional principles and the basic concepts of its legal system, each party to the Convention should establish as a criminal offence, when committed intentionally, the possession and purchase of coca leaf for personal consumption contrary to the provisions of the 1961 Convention. Governments should establish as criminal offences under its domestic law, when committed intentionally, the cultivation of coca bush for the purpose of the production of narcotic drugs contrary to the provisions of the 1961 Convention.

220. The provisions of the 1988 Convention, including reservations made under that Convention, do not absolve a party of its rights and obligations under the other international drug control treaties. It is therefore important that States fulfil their obligations under those treaties in spite of any reservations they may have made. Should a State require assistance from the international community to enable it to comply with any of its treaty obligations, it should make a formal request for such assistance.

221. The Board calls upon the Governments of Bolivia and Peru to initiate action without delay with a view to eliminating uses of coca leaf that are contrary to the 1961 Convention and to strengthen their efforts against trafficking in cocaine in the region. The Board calls on the international community to provide assistance to those countries towards achieving those objectives.

[much further down in the report, in the section about missions]

Missions

474. In September 2007, a mission of the Board visited Bolivia to review the drug control situation in that country and the Government’s compliance with the international drug control treaties.

475. The Board notes that the Government of Bolivia has adopted a national drug control strategy covering the period 2007-2010, which marks a significant shift in the political will and commitment of the Government to the objectives of the international drug control treaties. The Board appreciates that the strategy reaffirms the strong stand of the Government against the illicit manufacture of and trafficking in cocaine and the criminal organizations involved. The Board also welcomes the decision of the Government to strengthen the mechanism for the monitoring and control of coca bush cultivation.

476. The Board notes with concern, however, that the strategy addresses the issue of coca leaf chewing in a manner that is not in line with the obligations of Bolivia under the international drug control treaties, to which Bolivia is a party. The Board requests the Government of Bolivia to comply with its treaty obligations by taking measures to prohibit the sale, use and attempts to export coca leaf for purposes which are considered not in line with the international drug control treaties.

477. The Government of Bolivia may wish to request assistance from its international development partners to put in place alternative development programmes to tackle the problems of poverty and hunger that prevail in the coca-producing areas of the country. The Board calls on Bolivia’s development partners to ensure that assistance provided to the Government of Bolivia is always in line with the international drug control treaties.

478. The Board notes that the Government of Bolivia has introduced the so-called “social control” policy, whereby coca bush growers are in charge of eradication programmes. The Board notes the relative peaceful environment that prevails in the coca bush growing areas. The Board requests the Government to monitor closely its new policy of getting the farmers to cooperate in voluntary eradication efforts. However, consideration should be given to devising alternative measures where the policy does not succeed.

479. The Board notes that the Government of Bolivia has established commissions to review Law 1008, the basic law governing drug control in the country. The commissions are working on two separate laws, one to regulate coca leaf and one to regulate controlled substances. The Board requests the Government to ensure that the laws conform with the international drug control treaties.

480. The Board notes with concern that drug abuse among the general population, as well as among the student population, in Bolivia is on the rise while, at the same time, the age of first use of illicit drugs is declining. The Board requests the Government of Bolivia to formulate and implement education programmes aimed at eliminating coca leaf chewing, as well as other non-medical uses of coca leaf.

481. The short-term objective of such education programmes should be to discourage the practice of coca leaf chewing while preventing the expansion of the practice among students and youth, drivers of public transport vehicles and other vulnerable groups in Bolivia. Such education programmes should be evaluated taking into account the extent and trends of coca leaf chewing, as well as the role that it plays in the progression of drug dependence.

489. The Board sent a mission to Peru in December 2006. The Board notes with appreciation that the Government adopted a comprehensive and balanced national drug policy for the period 2007-2011, with a view to combating drug trafficking and abuse, strengthened control over the licit distribution of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and enacted a new law for the control of precursor chemicals. However, the Board notes with concern that the vast majority of the coca leaf produced in Peru is diverted into illicit manufacture and that the provisions of the 1961 Convention concerning licit cultivation of coca bush and the production and use of coca leaf are not being implemented. The Board wishes to remind the Government that the only legal uses of coca leaf foreseen in the 1961 Convention are for medical or scientific purposes or for the manufacturing of a flavouring agent from which all alkaloids have been removed. The Board requests the Government of Peru to take steps to abolish as soon as possible activities that are not in line with those provisions.

[and in the concluding section of recommendations:]

Recommendation 7: The practice of chewing coca leaves continues in Bolivia and Peru. The countries in the region are suffering from the illicit manufacture of and trafficking in cocaine. The Board calls upon the Governments of Bolivia and Peru to initiate action without delay with a view to eliminating uses of coca leaf, including coca leaf chewing, that are contrary to the 1961 Convention. The Governments of those countries and Colombia should strengthen their efforts against the illicit manufacture of and trafficking in cocaine. The Board calls on the international community to provide assistance to those countries towards achieving those objectives.