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Press Conference


Press Conference
William R. Brownfield
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Remarks With Ambassador McFarland and Governor of Herat Province
Herat Province, Afghanistan
May 1, 2012

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Governor: [Through Interpreter]: Of course Mr. [inaudible] person of the Governor first introduced the panelists, and then the Governor said that we are happy today that we have the Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of State and Ambassador McFarland, and of course their colleagues and working team with them. And Mr. Ambassador, the Governor said that we are focusing on the delegation, the United States delegation is focusing on the judiciary, justice sector here, and that they have meetings, conferences, with chief judge and chief prosecutors and they have visits from [inaudible] legal [courses] going on. And the delegation also, once again, talked about the commitment to Afghanistan and that the Provincial Governor of Herat also made sure that the provincial government, the local government in Herat will continue to set forth against counter-narcotics.

Asking the Assistant Secretary of State to deliver any remarks.

Assistant Secretary Brownfield: Thank you very much, Governor, and ladies and gentlemen of the media. Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to greet you on my first visit to Herat since 1976 -- well before most of you were born.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have had excellent conversations with the Governor and other members of his provincial administration. As we focus so much on the crises of the moment we sometimes forget to build for the future. It is for that reason that we are here today to talk about justice, rule of law, and the proper application of the rules and laws that make our society function.

The Governor and we discussed four areas where we have cooperated and continue to cooperate today. The areas of justice, rule of law, and prosecutors, prisons and correction systems, and drugs and counter-narcotics. Our cooperation is not without risk and without danger, and I pass through you, the members of the media, the condolences of the United States of America to the family of the prosecutor Abdul Manan who was murdered last week, showing that the price for law and justice can be extreme sometimes. But we will continue to cooperate, we will continue to support one another, and we will continue to build a better future for Herat, for Afghanistan, and for the entire world.

Governor: [Through Interpreter]. He’s asking you to deliver some remarks.

Ambassador McFarland: Thank you very much.

For me it is a great pleasure to return to Herat. It is always a pleasure to speak with the Governor, local authorities, about the important cooperation that exists between Heratis and Americans.

Afghanistan is entering an important period of transition, but on behalf of Ambassador Crocker I would like to underscore that our vision, which of course is subject to what the government of Afghanistan wishes, our vision of our relationship is that there will continue to be a very strong partnership between Afghanistan and the United States after 2014.

If I may add, a very clear demonstration of our commitment to that partnership is not just the extent of the support that we provide to Afghanistan and to the Province of Herat, but also our decision to establish a consulate in Herat. Thank you.

Question: [Through Interpreter]: The question is directed to the Assistant Secretary. He’s talking about the narcotics problem in Afghanistan. Almost 1.5 million of Afghans are, one way or another, claimed that are drug addicts. That means out of 25 persons, one out of 25 persons, one way or another, are drug addicts. There are always complaints about the government of Afghanistan not being able to cope properly against narcotics, and there are always claims from the government that there is not enough budget in the government to deal with this issue.

Although there are international community commitment in the term of counter-narcotics, but there are always international mafia of drug dealers and drug traffickers all around the world that nothing have ever been done to me. There are reports and we all know that the United States have always been working hard to capture, to arrest some of the weapons smugglers, but there has nothing been done in terms of the drug, the international mafia drug smugglers.

Assistant Secretary Brownfield: Ladies and gentlemen, we have learned a lesson over the last 50 years, that there is no country that is just a producing nation or a transit nation or a consumption nation. We are all tied together as a global community that shares responsibility for narcotics abuse.

Herat itself, the Province of Herat is a victim of its geography. Herat sits at the crossroads of two major narcotics trafficking routes. One that moves west to the republic to the west of Afghanistan, and the other that moves north to the Central Asian republics in the route to a market in Russia and Western Europe.

Narcotics traffickers in the 21st Century pay their networks in product. They do not pay in currency. They pay with heroin or cocaine or morphine or methamphetamines and by so doing they create a market of more consumers and more abusers of drugs.

My government cooperates with the government of Afghanistan in its effort to combat illicit drugs. We cooperate in support for eradication and prevention of cultivation of opium poppy. We cooperate with Afghan law enforcement in interdicting the shipment and transportation of narcotic products. But we also cooperate in efforts to reduce demand and support treatment centers throughout the republic.

Drug abuse and drug addiction in Afghanistan is not just a problem for Afghanistan. Drug addiction in the United States is not just a problem for the United States. We are partners in this effort. We must work together. As we work together we will build better communities and a better future for both our nations and for the entire world.

Question: [Through Interpreter]. The question is directed to Ambassador McFarland. It’s about the lack of facilities and equipment in the justice system offices and the law enforcement offices in Herat, in Afghanistan and particularly in western Afghanistan. There have always been complaints by the director of these law enforcement offices that they have not enough equipment and facilities. This has sometimes even caused the prosecutors not to be able to properly follow the cases. What’s your plan in terms of equipping, providing equipment for the law enforcement and justice system offices?

Ambassador McFarland: It’s a very good question. As the Assistant Secretary mentioned, we have very broad areas of cooperation with the government of Afghanistan in justice and law enforcement. In addition to American cooperation there has been substantial cooperation on behalf of ISAF, on behalf of other countries as well as other international institutions. Notwithstanding the large amounts of assistance, however, the needs in Afghanistan understandably after many years of war, are huge.

While you have focused on the issue of resources to make offices work, which are very important, there are other areas that have also required considerable investment and those include in particular education of law school students and there the United States has been working very hard with faculties of law and sharia throughout the country. We’ve also been a strong support of the training for judges, training for programs for police, continuing legal education for judges and for prosecutors and for public defenders including a program that is being carried out today at the Governor’s compound for prosecutors.

At the request of the government of Afghanistan, the United States and other members of the international community have committed to providing about 50 percent of cooperation through the national budget. The purpose is to make sure that decisions about where to allocate resources are increasingly made by the government of Afghanistan, which is what it should be. It’s a fact of life that there will never be enough resources to do everything that is necessary, but we are confident that now there is a system in which the government of Afghanistan can be making the basic decisions as to where to allocate the resources.

We share your concern. We obviously want to do everything we can to make sure that the judges and prosecutors and police here have the resources to do their job with.

Question: [Through Interpreter]. The question was of course directed to the Governor and it was about the last ten years’ achievements and efforts in terms of transparency and counter-corruption. But they say corruption is still, is widely found in the body of Afghanistan government and even in the offices here in Herat.

There has been support by the United States in eradication of this problem. Eradication of corruption. Has this support and assistance ever been useful to counter-corruption?

Governor: [Through Interpreter]. The answer to the question was that during the last ten years there have been a lot of achievements, a lot of [inaudible] and efforts have been done, but we admit there are a lot of other things we need to work on. There are corruptions in the offices. We are still working to eradicate the corruption.

We as the local or provincial government of Herat are following the procedures and doctrines that are made in Kabul.

The visits of our friends from the United States and from other communities is a renewal of their commitment to support the Afghan government, to reach to their long-term wishes for a stable and secure nation.

Question: [Through Interpreter]. The question is, of course it’s probably directed to the Ambassador McFarland. The question is that it’s 11 years that the international community is in Afghanistan with about 46 different countries here. But there has not been a prominent activity in terms of rule of law in Afghanistan. The warlords are still powerful and they are still in the government. Do you think in the coming two years there will be a change while there has not been a big change within 11 years?

Ambassador McFarland: Again, a very good question.

Our experience in our country is that justice and rule of law is a very long-term process. And while 10 or 11 years sounds like a long time for the construction of justice, rule of law, it is a very short time.

There are many Afghans who, inside and outside the government, have talked to us about the challenges that they’re facing in terms of justice and rules of law. Speaking as a foreigner, I appreciate the improvements that have taken place in the last 11 years. That said, I can also appreciate that there is much to be done. We have a close relationship with the government of Afghanistan and with the institutions that are carrying out rule of law and law enforcement. That’s cooperation that we look to continue, not just for the next years until transition, but after transition as well. But the basic questions that you ask about, what will be done in the areas of justice and rule of law are really questions that can only be answered by Afghans themselves, not by foreigners.

[Pause - Multiple voices].

Question: [Through Interpreter]. The question is directed to the Assistant Secretary and it’s about the amount of money that has been spent in terms of poppy eradication. How much money will be spent in the future?

Assistant Secretary Brownfield: I can answer that in the following way. The money that we have provided to support eradication has been provided directly to the government of Afghanistan, which in turn supports the provincial governors in their own provincial efforts to eradicate opium poppy. In that way the Provincial Governor is able to determine what works best in his province, what delivers the best results, and then he or she is able to use the resources to support the province agriculture or alternative development.

In the year 2013 the United States Congress has made $600 million available to support international narcotics control and law enforcement in Afghanistan. Of that amount, somewhere in the vicinity of $100 to $150 million is available to support the provincial governors’ eradication efforts. But it is the Governors who decide. It is the Governors who will implement their own programs. We will support the national government which in turn, through the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics, will support the individual Governors.

Question: [Through Interpreter]. The question is that during the last several years there has been a lot of efforts in terms of counter-corruption. The Afghan government has made a specific organization in terms of counter-corruption. The head of his department is now acting like a law enforcement organization. He stands up in front of the cameras and tribunes and accuse one person for stealing or accuse one person for something. I believe that in such a situation that the international community is in Afghanistan. We should not let such people who are not law enforcement organizations to stand up and kill the personality of the others.

Assistant Secretary Brownfield: We have learned over the last 40 years that one of the prices that we pay in any society for massive narcotics trafficking and organized criminal activity is the corruption and penetration of our institutions by criminal organizations. How an individual government deals with or addresses that problem is a matter for that government under its constitution and its laws.

The international community and the government of the United States will support efforts to eliminate corruption, but we will not dictate to any government whether Afghanistan or any other government in the world, how it will do it. That obviously is a matter for the Afghan people themselves to decide.

Thank you very much.



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