Colombia risks losing U.S. support in war on drugs – Attorney General

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia threatens to lose support from the United States in its fight against drug trafficking, prompting legislation to boost coca production and allow criminal gangs to surrender and potentially receive amnesty , the Andean country’s attorney general said in an interview with Reuters.

The bill, backed by leftist President Gustavo Petro, is part of the government’s effort to end the role of criminal groups in Colombia’s civil war.

According to the government, the bill, which is being debated in parliament, would allow criminal groups to break their networks, recognize crimes, provide compensation to victims, and hand over information about their weapons, assets and activities to criminal groups, which would result in penalties. that mitigates.

Attorney General Francisco Barbosa, who strongly opposes the proposal, said in an interview with Reuters that “large amnesties are being offered to those who have committed crimes and who would otherwise be released from prison.” rice field.

Barbosa said the bill would “definitely” help criminals break the law, launder assets and profit from large-scale drug trafficking.

The proposal does not include amnesty or mass release from prisons, Justice Minister Nestor Ivan Osuna told Reuters.

Barbosa said a decline in activity against criminal groups during Petro’s tenure had hampered the execution of some of the warrants.

“Colombia is losing control,” he said. “I, as Attorney General, cannot accept that it is understood that what must be done here is to negotiate extradition laws with drug traffickers.”

Barbosa said he was concerned that the government’s decision to reduce manual eradication of coca, the base ingredient of cocaine, and to end the aerial spraying of drug crops with the pesticide glyphosate would increase coca production. He said that

According to official US statistics, Colombia will have 2,340 square kilometers of coca in 2021, with a potential cocaine production of 972 tons. There are no figures for last year.

Washington is Colombia’s biggest ally in the fight against drug trafficking, providing the Andean nation with about $450 million in aid each year.

Funding could be lost if the US grades its allies’ efforts in counter-narcotics and revokes Colombia’s accreditation.

“There are risks,” Barbosa said of decertification. “I hope that Colombia will fight to keep it from becoming a drug state. Total peace is not just empty prisons.”

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta Writing by Oliver Griffin Editing by Deepa Babington

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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