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Head of Interpol Calls for Decriminalization


July 1994

On June 8, 1994, Raymond Kendall, Secretary General of the International Criminal Police Organization known as Interpol, called for the decriminalization of drug possession. (Reuters, "Interpol Chief Urges Drug Decriminalization," The Boston Globe; Jason Bennetto, "Police Chiefs Appeal for Drugs Review", The Independent, 6/9/94, p. 2).

Kendall, a former Scotland Yard detective, told BBC radio that "I am in favor of decriminalization but not in favor of legalization" and "I think that we should accept the reality of the situation ... that there are many, many drug users who are living in a situation of illegality already." He said that drug use was more of a social and health issue than a police problem and that police efforts should be directed toward drug trafficking. "If someone is caught with drugs they should be treated, not convicted."

The Economist reported that "Police and Health officers (in Britain) also now agree that the health of hard-drug users should take priority over arresting them. In 1988, the Department of Health pioneered a policy of trying to reduce the harm of drugs, rather than preventing their use. 'AIDS represents a greater threat to health than drug misuse,' it explained." (No byline, "Drugs; Opening Crack", The Economist, 6/11/94, p. 53)

Kendall's remarks came at the same time as the annual drug conference of Britain's Association of Chief Police Officers, which is also calling for decriminalization of drugs.

[INTERPOL Secretary General Raymond Kendall can be contacted at OIPC - Interpol, BP 6041, 69411 Lyons, Cedex 06, France]