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Diplomacy in Action

Newsletter: The INL Beat, Spring 2012

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

In This Issue:

INL Overflights Shed Light on Poppy Cultivation in Afghan Desert

Date: 2012 Description: Farm compound in the area north of Boghra Canal (Mataque) at MRGS. - State Dept Image
Farm compound in the area north of Boghra Canal (Mataque) at MRGS.

In an effort to better track and counter poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, INL’s Office of Aviation performs aerial reconnaissance flights which provides valuable insights into cultivation trends in the Kandahar area.  Photographs taken during these flights offer useful information on the growth stages of the poppy, which has significantly helped with the Governor-Led Eradication (GLE) program.

These flights and photos also help the various U.S. government agencies involved in counternarcotics efforts gain a better understanding of the players involved with poppy cultivation and the causes behind the increase of poppy farming.  For example, the desert area north of the Bograh Canal is just outside of the Helmand Food Zone and has not been subjected to eradication in the past.  Opponents of eradication claim that poppy in this area is cultivated by poor, subsistence farmers without means to grow other crops.  However, farm compounds, like the one pictured, are representative of a prosperous and well-planned organization, not merely a subsistence farmer trying to eke out a living by growing poppy. 

The farmers in this area have historically grown poppy along with limited food crops, but during a recent meeting with U.S. researchers, the farmers indicated they would start growing poppy only.  The farmers claimed poppy is the only crop that can be grown profitably in the area and food on the local market is readily available. The farmers also noted the cost of operating diesel pumps required to pump water out of wells  added considerably to farming costs. The effect of these wells on the fragile water system is unknown, but early reports indicate a negative impact on the Helmand water table. 

The overflights also identified large areas of farmland affected by salinization (the buildup of high levels of salts in soil) that USDA and USAID representatives believe is a result of watering methods used in these areas.  As a result of this finding, the Government of Aghanistan met with international community stakeholders to discuss salinization, as well as other issues of concern.

Ambassador Stephen G. McFarland Opens Dialogue with University Students in Kabul

Ambassador Stephen G. McFarland, Coordinating Director of Rule of Law and Law Enforcement, recently met with Afghan university students pursuing Legal Certificates in the Afghanistan Legal Education Project (ALEP) at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) in Kabul.  This INL-funded program publishes and distributes free legal textbooks that address Afghanistan’s post-2004 legal system.  It also offers studies towards a Legal Certificate for students pursuing a variety of majors including business, political science, and information technology. 

Visiting Stanford Law School students and Afghan and American faculty advisors joined the meeting.  Ambassador McFarland gauged the Afghan students’ views on key rule of law issues, including access to justice, legal awareness, and justice post “transition” of combat troops.  This exchange offered a frank and detailed discussion, with students frequently referencing information and principles learned in their coursework.  Students urged the U.S. Embassy to support more public legal awareness initiatives. 

The students all expressed the view that educating citizens about the law empowers them to demand better justice services from their institutions. 

“The people are not educated.  They don’t know the law and they don’t know their rights, especially women working at home.  They have rights based on simply being a human – nothing more, but they do not know even this,” said one of the female students. 

These courses empower students to see the law as a tool they can use to help shape their legal system.  INL partners with Stanford Law School faculty and students, as well as the American University, to implement the Afghanistan Legal Education Project.  Students who participated in these classes are eager to contribute to the process of justice reform in Afghanistan.

Panama’s SENAFRONT Looking Local

Date: 2012 Description: SENAFRONT recruits from Panama's Darien province participate in a lecture. - State Dept Image
SENAFRONT recruits from Panama's Darien province participate in a lecture.

Panama’s national border service (SENAFRONT), supported by the Narcotics Affairs Section of U.S. Embassy Panama, held a recruiting program in the southern province of Darién aimed at increasing participation among the local indigenous population.  SENAFRONT offers citizens viable alternatives to joining rebels groups or drug traffickers. 

Responding to the call, a dozen or so, military fatigue-clad indigenous women came from the deepest part of the jungle that surrounds in Darién province to participate in the recruiting program.  Some participants traveled from Unión Chocó on the Tuira river, El Balsal, Guna Yala, and from nearby Santa Fé.  Some heard about the opportunity on their transistor radios, others heard through chiefs who brought word to their villages, or from a male relative already members of SENAFRONT, which as of late has been having a series of successes against the FARC’s 57th Front in the border area with Colombia.  One of the women was eking out a living as a temporary tax collector when she heard that SENAFRONT would transport low-income Darienites between the ages of 19 and 27 to its Metetí base to help prepare them for the Service’s entrance exam.  She has been there four months now – having joined 297 others in the ninth class of the basic training course – and has not had to pay because SENAFRONT covered all of her expenses.

The advantages are not all for the recruits.  Besides acquiring officers with a native knowledge of local language, culture and terrain, SENAFRONT gets to expand its forces with people who are  familiar to the region’s residents, which should help not only with its security mission, but also with its local police and with its community policing activities.

For the Frontier Service’s new Darienite members – many of whom have been harassed, or had their families harassed, by drug traffickers – SENAFRONT service represents gainful employment in their home region.  Much more importantly, it is a chance for them to help keep their communities safe from drugs and violence.

New Model Prisons in the Dominican Republic Give Female Internees a Second Chance

The New Model Prison in the Dominican Republic has proven to be beneficial for rehabilitating female internees, participants in the first Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) Technical Working Group on Prison Reform discovered.

The New Model Prison system exemplifies discipline, humanity, respect for human rights and security, while promoting the potential of internees through education, work, art and sports.  Throughout the system, women attend classes on a variety of subjects including literacy, drama, religion, design, cooking, and agriculture.  Internees participating in vocational programs keep a portion of their wages and send a portion to their families. Another portion of the earned wages supports the vocational program. 

Currently, there is only a 2.7% recidivism rate at the Dominican Republic Model Prisons.  The United Nations has called the New Model Prison System a center of excellence in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Technical Working Group occurred in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on February 29 - March 1, 2012.  Participants included senior prison officials from 12 Caribbean countries as well as international observers from the United States and the United Kingdom.  Attendees discussed prison issues common throughout the region, identified areas of regional cooperation, and generated ideas for prison reform programs.  In addition to touring the Najayo Women’s prison, the working group attendees visited the Dominican Republic’s training academy for prison officials.  The visits left a positive impression on the Caribbean participants and generated ideas for improving the professionalization of their own prison staffs. 

Since 2003 the Dominican Republic has been converting its old prisons systems to the new model system.  Currently there are 14 new model prisons that accommodate approximately 20% of the internees in the country.  The target is to convert all the remaining traditional prisons in the country over the next few years. 

Central Prison Directorate Officials Attend INL-Funded Corrections Training in the U.S.

Date: 2012 Description: Central Prison Directorate officials from Afghanistan pictured during a training session in Canon City, Colorado. - State Dept Image
Central Prison Directorate officials from Afghanistan pictured during a training session in Canon City, Colorado.

In March, twenty-seven Central Prison Directorate (CPD) officials from Afghanistan attended a three-week training course at the International Corrections Management Training Center (ICMTC) in Canon City, Colorado.  The curriculum included training in best practices and leadership and organizational development.  Trainees were taught how to ensure the safety of staff, conduct searches of inmates and their visitors (in accordance with acceptable international standards), and properly classify inmates. 

The students were also given the opportunity to experience American culture and interact with residents of Colorado.   At the conclusion of their training, the trainees gave presentations on how they would apply what they learned.

General Jamshid, the Director General of the Central Prison Directorate and a course participant, enthusiastically described the training and its value to senior Afghan corrections officials.  General Jamshid also commented on the superb hospitality of the staff at the training center in Colorado. 

Another Afghan official said after observing inmate classification at a Colorado prison that he better understands how to put this into practice back home.  Others participants stated the course gave them the skills to plan strategically and lead by example at their respective facilities. 

This initiative contributes to the continued leadership development of CPD senior staff and supports efforts to establish a safe, secure and humane corrections system in Afghanistan.

Tajik Community Policing Partnerships are Warming Up Even in a Frigid Winter 

Work can be hard sometimes in the mountains of Central Asia; heavy snowfall, freezing temperatures, avalanches, training rooms with no heat and electricity, and team members having to resort to snowshoes to reach several of the targeted communities.  Despite all this, INL Dushanbe and its implementing partner, The Emergence Group (TEG), still reached its four new far-flung Community Policing Partnership Teams (CPPT), just 6 months old.  They led eight different workshops covering community policing philosophy, partnership-building, problem-solving, crime prevention, project development and management, facilitation skills and meeting management.  Approximately forty representatives in each district came to the workshops representing the diverse cross-cut of society. 

To stay warm and keep spirits high in the blustery conditions, participants danced to traditional Tajik music and played snow volleyball during workshop breaks.  CPPT members named their key community problems; such as unemployment, economic and environmental problems, lack of education and employment opportunities for girls, and other sensitive youth-related problems; such as suicide and domestic violence.  The CPPTs also identified several potential sites for future Community Policing Centers; selected the CPPT Team Leaders – from police, community, government, women, and youth; arranged and conducted sport activities during the celebration of the Navruz holiday.  

Tajik Law Enforcement Officers Gain Tips  

Date: 2012 Description: INL-Funded program gives Tajik traffic police training in defensive tactics. - State Dept Image
INL-funded program gives Tajik traffic police training in defensive tactics.
Being a cop has never been easy, even in Central Asia.  INL contractors trained officers this winter from several Tajik law enforcement agencies on basic-level interviewing techniques, defensive tactics, radio communications, and pursuing suspects.  The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) dedicated  2012 as the year for capacity building, improving professional skills, and professional behavior.  Four defensive tactics instructors passed on their own recent INL training by teaching the two-day hands-on use of defensive tactics equipment.  INL also donated defensive tactics equipment to the trainers’ home institutions: MIA Academy, Border Guards Academy, and the Police Training Center (PTC). 

New Helicopter Ready for Counter Narcotics Efforts in Mexico

Date: 12/2011 Description: INL Deputy Assistant Secretaries, Carol Perez and Todd Robinson attend bi-national ceremony where NAS Mexico delivered the fourth Blackhawk helicopter to the Mexico Federal Police force. - State Dept Image
INL Deputy Assistant Secretaries, Carol Perez and Todd Robinson attend bi-national ceremony where NAS Mexico delivered the fourth Blackhawk helicopter to the Mexico Federal Police force.

As part of the joint U.S.-Mexico commitment to share responsibility in combating transnational organized crime under the Merida Initiative, NAS Mexico delivered the fourth Blackhawk UH-60M helicopter to the Government of Mexico’s Federal Police force (SSP) in December. The helicopter, valued at $20 million, will complement the SSP’s current air fleet by expanding law enforcement operations, allowing for rapid response and increased mobility of law enforcement personnel, providing access to remote and hard to reach regions, and expanding interdiction operations to target illicit activities. Two additional UH-60M’s will be delivered to SSP this spring.  Each helicopter delivery includes training and maintenance support.

The bi-national ceremony at Mexico’s Iztapalapa Federal Police force base was attended by the two U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretaries of State for INL, Todd Robinson and Carol Perez.   In his remarks, U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne stated, “Deliveries like this one take time to plan and execute.  Our larger Merida goals, such as helping Mexico to strengthen institutions and supporting Mexico’s ambitious judicial reforms, are also long-term initiatives.  I am very proud of Merida’s accomplishments to date.”

Speaking of the Merida Initiative, Mexico’s Secretary of Public Security Genaro Garcia Luna said, “A central component of this strategy is the strengthening of alliances to intensify the joint actions undertaken by us and the nations with which we share responsibilities and goals in the fight against crime.  Co-responsibility is precisely the underlying guiding concept of the Mexico-U.S. cooperation on security.”

Senior Armenian Police Observe Community Policing in Kansas

Date: 03/2012 Description: Armenian Police discuss police education with Kansas Law Enforcement Officials at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (KLETC) in Hutchinson, Kansas. - State Dept Image
Armenian Police discuss police education with Kansas Law Enforcement Officials at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (KLETC) in Hutchinson, Kansas.

In March, an Armenian police delegation, led by the country’s second highest police official, visited Kansas City, Kansas on a week-long study observation visit.

Hosted by the Kansas City Police Department, the Armenian police enjoyed a full schedule that included participating investigation briefings, being ferried by helicopter to the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, and riding along with Kansas City police. 

The Armenian officials learned about community policing, public order management, improvement of law enforcement education, and internal accountability. 

The Chief of Police of Armenia promptly sent U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern a warm thank you letter expressing his appreciation for the high quality of the visit and the value of U.S. police experience for the officers that attended.  The police chief also commented that visits like this provide the Armenian police with valuable information that will help them in achieving their reform goals.  

Former INL Intern Selected as Truman Scholar

Date: 2012 Description: Travis Glynn, junior at USC, was awarded the highly competitive Harry S Truman Scholarship. - State Dept Image
Travis Glynn, junior at USC, was awarded the highly competitive Harry S Truman Scholarship.

INL is proud to highlight Travis Glynn, a former intern for the Bureau and International Relations major at the University of Southern California, who recently received the honor of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. The federal scholarship provides $30,000 to students pursuing graduate degrees leading to careers in public service.  Travis competed with 600 other candidates from 292 colleges and universities from across the country. With the scholarship in hand, Travis will be able to pursue a master of public policy degree with a focus in international affairs.

Travis interned with INL’s East Asia office in the fall of 2011.  He focused on Asian issues, and was key in supporting the successful US-China Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement meetings.  He also worked on the Central Asian Counternarcotics Initiative.  Once he earns his master’s degree, Travis plans to become a Foreign Service Political Officer.  His goal is to be stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, working on reconstruction and development programs.

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