Holland slams France over drug deportations row

23rd April 2004, Comments 0 comments

THE HAGUE, April 23 (AFP) - The Dutch authorities on Friday defended their policy of deporting so-called mules, people who act as carriers of small quantities of drugs, instead of prosecuting them, in the face of strong protests from France.

THE HAGUE, April 23 (AFP) - The Dutch authorities on Friday defended their policy of deporting so-called mules, people who act as carriers of small quantities of drugs, instead of prosecuting them, in the face of strong protests from France.

A spokesman for the justice ministry described as "regrettable" a statement by French Interior Minister Dominique Villepin on Thursday that the measure was "unacceptable, intolerable and with very direct consequences for our safety."

Spokesman Wiebe Alkema said "Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner explained the Dutch policy to his European colleagues in December," when the policy was introduced on a temporary basis.

"The plans were extensively discussed including the plans for sending back certain mules and there was no protest," he said.

Faced with the growing problem of smuggling by people who swallow small amounts of cocaine, the Dutch customs in December began checking all passengers and luggage arriving from the Dutch Antilles and Surinam.

But, in order to avoid overloading the judicial system, people carrying small amounts of narcotics are not prosecuted but sent back and put on a black list barred from entering the Netherlands.

The justice ministry will not say what limit was set but media reports have said it is three kilos of cocaine.

Alkema said France had known about the policy and never officially complained.

"In February or March this year there was even a high-level delegation of French customs officers who visited Schiphol (Amsterdam's international airport) to see how we deal with drugs smuggling. They know exactly what is going on," he added.

© AFP

                                              Subject: French news

 

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