Justice may be blind but injustice is colour blind. In the six months I spent in Brixton Prison I heard many horror stories from other remand and convicted prisoners, none more so than from those who had fallen victim to Britain’s hysterical anti-drugs laws.
Now I have no intention of attempting to defend drug use. As someone who has been disabled and in near constant pain for many years I am a reluctant user of legitimate drugs - mainly painkillers - and this is a privilege I would rather forego. Just as all good Moslems eschew the use of alcohol, so do they have no time for drugs, either for their abuse or trafficking in them. Those few Moslems who are attracted to drug abuse or trafficking are victims of the same human weaknesses which afflict every other ethnic or religious group. Having said that, the cure for drug abuse and drug trafficking is surely worse than the disease. And here I will give specific examples from my own experience.
The following is an extract from the DRUG TRAFFICKING OFFENCES ACT 1986. Failure to disclose “knowledge or suspicion” of money laundering is a criminal offence so that:
“(1) A person is guilty of an offence, if -
(a) he knows, or suspects, that another person is engaged in drug money laundering,
(b) the information, or other matter, on which that knowledge or suspicion is based came to his attention in the course of his trade, profession, business or employment, and
(c) he does not disclose the information or other matter to a constable as soon as is reasonably practicable after it comes to his attention.” (1)
Read the above carefully; what it means is that if you are a bank manager, a building society clerk, or even an accountant, you have a legal obligation to become a police spy! We are already living in a nation of spies; in 1996 there were no less than 16,125 tip offs of alleged money laundering to the National Criminal Intelligence Service: 49% from banks; 2% from solicitors. (2) That could be your solicitor! Incredibly, there are those who believe that this spying and informing on one’s customers, neighbours and friends hasn’t gone far enough. One academic said that “accounting firms maintained a secrecy that needs to be challenged.” (3)
This is the same mentality which pervaded both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia where even children were encouraged to denounce their parents, yet any comparison with these two statist regimes provokes either laughter or outrage.
In Brixton I met two inmates who were charged with money laundering, ironically they were a Palestinian and a Jew. The Palestinian - a long-time British citizen and moderate Moslem - runs (or ran) a chain of bureaux de changes. His “crime” was that he had not asked questions when a man who was a known drug smuggler (but not known to him) changed large amounts of currency at one of his offices. He is currently awaiting trial; Customs & Excise froze his assets and he faces losing everything he owns in the world.
The Jewish inmate was convicted of money laundering and received a two year gaol sentence. He was also ordered to pay a fine of some 200,000 pounds or serve another two years in gaol. He was managing a video shop, which is hardly the ideal front for money laundering on a grand scale.
A man alleged to be a larger fish was a German businessman who had already been sentenced to sixteen years imprisonment for being “knowingly concerned” in the importation of drugs, an allegation which is virtually impossible to disprove, and in some such cases the burden of proof is on the defendant to prove his innocence, reversing the time honoured principle of innocent until proven guilty.
This man - who was currently fighting extradition to Germany on an alleged property fraud - told me that after spending three years in prison his conviction was quashed. Incredibly, the fact that no drugs or other meaningful evidence had been found in his possession was used as “proof” not of his innocence but that he was “so far up the chain” (ie such a powerful drugs baron)!
He had at the time been running a large international construction firm, which was said to have been an ideal front for drug smuggling. I personally have no doubt that this man was totally innocent of drug trafficking; indeed, his current troubles seemed to have been contrived. (4)
Finally, there were two men who had been “set up” by the police. One was a Moslem of Arabic/Kurdish origin. (5) I met him in the cells at Southwark Crown Court. His “crime” was that he sold £100 worth of heroin to an undercover police officer. He had a previous (unrelated) conviction as far back as 1988 and was running a small family business. He had five children and had already spent six months in custody.
I read the transcript of the (bugged) conversation he had with the undercover police officer who bought the drugs off him, and the man was very pushy, to put it mildly. It was clear that the victim sold the drugs very reluctantly. He was worried that the authorities would seize his business under forfeiture legislation.
But the most pathetic case - if not the saddest - that I came across was that of a young black man with whom I shared a cell briefly. He was a typical nuisance criminal who had been in and out of prison, always for petty offences. He was not any sort of danger, and was a typical unemployed and unemployable social inadequate. He was somewhat estranged from his family; at the time of his arrest he had been living in a hostel in the West End of London and had been on the waiting list for a bedsit or flat of his own.
His “crime” was that an undercover police officer had walked up to him in the street and - obviously knowing who or what type of man he was - asked if he could supply him with drugs. Seeing the opportunity to supplement his miserable state pittance he offered to sell the police officer a small quantity of cannabis, and was arrested. He received a short sentence for “intent to supply”, even though he never had any drugs on him. Clearly, if his prospective customer had been genuine he would have made a purchase from a local dealer and taken a percentage for himself. As his customer was not genuine then clearly the only crime that had been committed here had been incited by an agent provocateur.
As a result of this, the victim lost both his current hostel place and the chance to be rehoused in his own flat. The undercover police officer in this case was not fighting crime but committing a despicable act.
So what can or should be done about the drug menace? The answer is that there is no drug menace. Rather the menace is the anti-drug crusade. First and foremost all the drug trafficking and anti-money laundering legislation should be repealed and banking confidentiality restored. At the time of writing there is a furore going on in certain circles about the alleged purloining of Jewish wealth after the Second World War. Jews who perished in the Holocaust or who escaped from Nazi Germany were said to have been looted. The point that has been missed here is that it is only because there was banking confidentiality - including in Nazi Germany - that Jews were able to send their wealth abroad and flee the country and Nazi-occupied Europe. Without banking confidentiality all minorities - including Moslems - can be crushed at any time by the state.
Secondly, there should be a defence of entrapment in not only drugs but all criminal cases. Where the police - or some other organ of the state - incite or provoke criminal acts then there must be no convictions. Indeed, if a police officer incites a crime then he should be charged with a criminal offence!
Thirdly, the burden of proof in all crimes must always rest with the prosecution. And the right to silence, which the authorities are intent on abolishing by degrees, must be restored.
There remains then the very real problem of drug abuse. I do not expect Moslems to agree with my view that all drugs should be legalised, which would undoubtedly reduce the number of deaths and remove the temptation to crime. The real, indeed the only way to deal with the very real problem of drugs is by instilling a taboo about them in the population, particularly the young.
If alcohol were to be legalised in Saudi Arabia, would that country be flooded with drink? Would that country’s citizens turn into a nation of alcoholics? No. The only people who would drink alcohol would be those who do anyway, mostly expatriate Europeans working on various government contracts. The Saudis do not drink alcohol not because it is forbidden by the state but because it is forbidden by the Koran. There is a strong social taboo associated with alcohol in the Moslem world. IF YOU ARE A GOOD MOSLEM YOU WILL NOT DRINK ALCOHOL. The way to combat the drug menace is to instil a similar taboo into the young, to convince them that if you are a good citizen, a good neighbour, a good friend, a good son or daughter, you will not use drugs.
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