Peru considers lifting ban on shooting down aircrafts suspected of carrying drugs

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala says Peru is considering backing a bill that would lift a 14-year-old ban on shooting down aircrafts suspected of carrying drugs.

BOCA MANTARO, PERU (RECENT) (PERUVIAN ARMED FORCES) – Peruvian President Ollanta Humala announced on Tuesday (March 10) that Peru is considering backing a bill that would lift a 14-year ban on shooting down aircrafts believed to be carrying drugs, despite opposition from the United States.

A defence commission in Peru’s Congress approved the bill on Monday (March 9) as the first possible step in a drive to radicalise anti-drug laws in the world’s leading cocaine-producing nation.

Peru’s Interior Minister, Jose Perez Guadalupe, announced on Tuesday that the bill would be debated and weighed against a U.S. proposal of technical support for the country if Peru were to maintain the current ban on interception.

“What I can say is that it is it under evaluation, the issue was addressed with a commission which came from the United States. There is a proposal from the United States to guarantee the status quo by which we are unable to intercept aircrafts which enter air spaces where drug trafficking is carried out. Logically, they proposed some alternatives in terms of technological help, and they are helping us with training and providing helicopters and further help,” said Perez.

“On the other side, there is the possibility, as is the case in other countries, of having the freedom to intercept, since it is within our borders. Both proposals have their reasoning which is being evaluated in order to come to a decision for our country. Yesterday a congressional commission approved the right for authorities to intercept aircrafts within Peruvian borders. I think that if this is the case, logically we will have to approve the right once again for ships to be intercepted too,” Perez added.

Perez stated that before a decision is made, the government would have to make sure no errors would be committed, as was the case in 2001 when a ship was wrongly intercepted causing the death of a U.S. citizen and her child.

Washington suspended its support to Peru’s interception programme following the accident.

A decision regarding the bill could be reached by Thursday (March 12), authorities announced.

The use of aircrafts in drug-trafficking efforts has intensified in recent years in Peru, as dozens of clandestine routes have been constructed through vegetation in the region known as VRAEM, where poor farmers have collaborated with traffickers in coca production.