Monday, December 22, 2008

Drug Certification


The certification process is required by law--Section 490 of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961, as amended, requires the President every year to submit to Congress a list of those countries he has determined to be major illicit drug producing and/or drug transit countries. The FAA requires that half of most U.S. Government foreign assistance to any country on this "Majors" list be withheld until the President determines whether the country should be "certified" under the certification process, first enacted in 1986.

A major illicit drug producing country is defined as one in which:
1,000 hectares or more of illicit opium poppy are cultivated or harvested during a year; 1,000 hectares or more of illicit coca are cultivated or harvested during a year; or 5,000 hectares or more of illicit cannabis are cultivated or harvested during a year, unless the President determines that such illicit cannabis production does not significantly affect the United States.
A major drug-transit country is defined as:

A significant direct source of illicit narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances significantly affecting the United States; or

A country through which such drugs or substances are transported.
The "Majors" List for 1999

On November 10, the President approved and sent to Congress the "Majors" list for 1999. The 26 countries and dependent territories included were: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Taiwan, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

The President is required under the FAA to review anti-narcotics efforts undertaken by those countries on the "Majors" list in order to determine and transmit certification decisions to Congress by March 1, 2000. The President may select from the following certification options for each of the countries on the "Majors" list: full certification, denial of certification, or a "vital national interests" certification (see definitions below).

In making determinations regarding full certification, the President considers the extent to which each major illicit drug producing or drug-transit country has: Met the goals and objectives of the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances including action on such issues as illicit cultivation, production, distribution, sale, transport and financing, and money laundering, asset seizure, extradition, mutual legal assistance, law enforcement and transit cooperation, precursor chemical control, and demand reduction; Accomplished the goals described in an applicable bilateral narcotics agreement with the United States, or a multilateral agreement; Taken legal and law enforcement measures to prevent and punish public corruption--especially by senior government officials--that facilitates the production, processing, or shipment of narcotic and psychotropic drugs and other controlled substances, or that discourages the investigation or prosecution of such acts.

If a country receives full certification, all aid that was withheld is released.

Denial of certification requires the U.S. to deny sales or financing under the Arms Export Control Act; deny non-food assistance under Public Law 480; deny financing by the Export-Import Bank, and withhold most assistance under the FAA with the exception of specified humanitarian and counternarcotics assistance. The U.S. must also vote against proposed loans from six multilateral development banks.

If a country has not met the standards for full certification, the President may nevertheless certify the country by determining that the U.S. vital national interests require that assistance be provided/not withheld and that the U.S. not vote against multilateral development bank assistance for the country. When a country receives a "vital national interests" certification, assistance is provided in the same manner as if it had been given full certification.

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