By Alejandro A. Tagliavini *
While the International Criminal Court begins an analysis of the «anti-drug war» of Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, days ago the security forces of Bangladesh killed 11 alleged drug traffickers in a new operation that has claimed 30 deaths in a week, human rights activists believe this is a plan «in the style» of the Philippine president, that is, an excuse to eliminate opponents.
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) -an elite police force- sources confirmed the deaths of 9 people in 8 districts in a night operation, raising the death toll to 30 during that week alone. The RAB spokesman added that they have arrested more than 3,000 people and sentenced 2,500 in special mobile courts since May 4.
The Supreme Court lawyer Jotiirmoy Barua has said that these «illegal» murders are a «threat to the State.» Meanwhile, the former director of the human rights group Ain or Shalish Kendra, Sultana Kamal, said the campaign «is unconstitutional and illegal.» The security forces have been repeatedly reported for committing extrajudicial killings that, according to the human rights organization Odhikar, exceeds 3,000 deaths since 2001.
In short, the truth is that due to the «war on drugs», inhuman and cruel as few, since it began with Nixon 40 million people were imprisoned and only in Mexico more than 80,000 died since 2006. This is the consequence of repression as a result of the prohibition established that seems to be only a business of politicians and bureaucrats. In other ways how can be explained that in the US, the country with the best equipped security forces in the world, is where most consumers exist, that is, where there is more traffic. Are these forces so inefficient or does there exist connivance between traffickers, politicians and police?
And, is it permissible to use violence to prevent someone from committing suicide? It is not, the theory of the lesser evil is not licit as clearly pointed out John Paul II in his Encyclical «Veritatis Splendor». And, besides, are they such harmful drugs? Undoubtedly, but curiously others that are «legal» are causing more damage. Another argument is that it would be the right to self-defense since drug addicts would be dangerous people for society.
In the first place, it is not clear that they are inherently dangerous (except when they consume toxic mixtures given the poor quality of the illegal), rather they seem physically and mentally handicapped. On the other hand, it is credible that once they have been criminalized by the State (instead of being visible to help them), they become delinquents because of the impossibility of managing to calm their addiction by normal means and at non-monopoly prices. But, even in the case of self-defense, the morally acceptable methods are the peaceful ones because they are the efficient ones.
The dilemma, after all, is the monopoly of the officials or the natural regulation of the market. By the way, in contrast to what happens in repressive countries, in Portugal – the country with the highest quality of life in Europe, according to InterNations – where drugs are freer, the number of crimes and drug addicts is lower. According to the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), in Portugal there are 0.5 annual homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the USA there are 4.7.
* Member of the Advisory Board of the Center on Global Prosperity, Oakland, California