Liberal Democrats want inquiry into decriminalising drug possession
Liberal Democrats are expected to call for an independent inquiry into the decriminalisation of possession of all drugs.
A motion to be put at the party's annual conference next month is likely to be passed, officials said.
It would be the first government-sponsored inquiry into decriminalisation, but is unlikely to have the support of David Cameron who has hardened his approach to drugs after being a past advocate of more liberal legislation as a member of the home affairs select committee.
Ministerial sources point out that the government published a review of drugs strategy in 2010 and does not yet see any need for a rethink. Senior Liberal Democrats believe Cameron and the home secretary, Theresa May, could be persuaded to hold an open-minded inquiry into a controversy which divides public, political and medical opinion. To learn more please follow this link
Source: The Guardian
Lib Dems to vote to decriminalise all drug use
The Liberal democrats are to call for the decriminalisation of all drugs, including heroin and cocaine, to be considered urgently by the Coalition Government in an effort to cut levels of addiction.
The party's conference is preparing to back demands for Britain's "harmful" and "ineffective" drug laws dating back 40 years to be swept away and replaced with an entirely new strategy for tackling drug use.
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, who has previously supported drug decriminalisation, is understood to be relaxed about his party committing itself to such a contentious policy proposal. To learn more please follow this link
Source: The Independent
Lib Dems consider drug law reform at conference
We're excited to see that a promising development in the UK debate is being widely reported today; the Lib Dems are to debate a motion at this years annual conference that takes a wide ranging look at drug law reform - specifically considering both decriminalisation of personal drug possession, and regulated cannabis markets. In many respects this isn't new territory for the Lib Dems - who have a long history of more rational thinking on the drugs issue than the other two main UK parties. They have had a call for legalisation and regulation of cannabis (albeit with some caveats) as official policy since 2002, andsomething resembling the decrim call (minus specifics) was actually in their 2010 election manifesto:
"Ensure that financial resources, and police and court time, are not wasted on the unnecessary prosecution and imprisonment of drug users and addicts; the focus instead should be on getting addicts the treatment they need. Police should concentrate their efforts on organised drug pushers and gangs."
Party leader Nick Clegg, has also gone on the record in the past in favour of progressive drug law reform including legalisation and regulation (as indeed has David Cameron). The significant development then is not the emergence of the proposals themselves, but the fact that they have been accepted for debate at conference.
The Lib Dem campaigners responsible for the motion (The Lib Dems for Drug Policy Reform group) have been pushing such motions for years without much luck. It could be that the Lib Dems are keen to put some distance between themselves ad the Tories with some progressive liberal ideas, but nonetheless, it's a clear sign of the changing climate that this motion is now on the table, and will be fascinating to see how the debate develops if it is adopted by one of the coalition government partners. To learn more please follow this link
British Lib Dems to Call for Drug Decriminalization
The British Liberal Democratic Party, junior partner in a coalition government with the Conservatives, is expected to pass a motion calling for an independent panel to study the decriminalization of the possession of all illicit drugs and for a regulated marijuana market, according to various British press reports. The motion is to be voted on at the party's annual conference next month.
The motion also calls for the inquiry to review the impact of the Misuse of Drugs Act and whether the government should seriously consider heroin maintenance programs. It cites the success of the Portuguese decriminalization model, as well as the call for reform from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and the findings of Britain's own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which called for the decriminalization of drug possession during the national review of drug strategy last year.
Aides to Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democratic Party head Nick Clegg told the Daily Mail they expected party members to approve the motion next month, making it official policy and putting the Lib Dems at odds with their Conservative partners. To learn more please follow this link
Source: Stop the Drug War
British Bangladeshis battle against drugs
Brick Lane on a Friday evening is full of life and vividly depicts the success story of many British-Bangladeshi immigrants. Their restaurant trade helped turn this once somewhat rundown area into one of the most vibrant and iconic streets of London.
But a few hundred yards away in the dark alleys of Whitechapel, you come across a completely different world. "I can see young Asian boys and girls… they wait in the streets, late at night. They beg money from you. I know they are involved in drugs," says local resident Fakhruddin Ahmed, a cab driver.
Mr Ahmed's two children are 16 and 17, and he now fears for their future. "I am now very worried about my own children, because I can see what's happening to these young boys and girls. They are involved in marijuana and other activities, you know."
Compared with other immigrant groups in the UK, drug abuse among British-Bangladeshis is still low. "But that picture is changing, especially in areas like Tower Hamlets, where there is a huge British-Bangladeshi population. It's the largest Bangladeshi community outside Bangladesh," says local councillor Kabir Ahmed. To learn more please follow this link
Source: BBC News
New Zealand bans synthetic cannabis products
A 12-month ban of synthetic cannabis products has come into effect in New Zealand. The government says the 43 artificial cannabis products can harm health, including causing heart problems
But consumers of the products say the ban will force them to buy recreational drugs on the black market. Among the prohibited substances is a popular brand known as Kronic, which has been a legal alternative to marijuana for several years.
It is smoked like marijuana and has been available in shops and tobacconists. Some retailers believe that other legal highs will continue to flood a very popular, and lucrative, market. To learn more please follow this link
Source: BBC News.
The TB/HIV Working Group is one of the seven working groups of the Stop TB Partnership, comprising a large network of stakeholders from international organizations, donors, academia, and nongovernmental and governmental organizations from a range of different countries.
It is committed to reducing the global burden of HIV related TB through effective collaboration between National TB and AIDS Control programmes and other stakeholders, and through the generation of evidence based policy and programme guidance in order to achieve the global TB/HIV targets set for 2010-2015 in the Global Plan to Stop TB. The Global Plan goal is to halve the number of deaths from TB among HIV-positive people, compared with 2004 levels. Although the Working Group promotes the implementation of collaborative TB/HIV activities in all countries, it has 63 priority countries for intensified action. For more information about the working group click here.
Source: TB/HIV Working Group
U.S. Widens Role in Battle Against Mexican Drug Cartels
WASHINGTON — The United States is expanding its role in Mexico’s bloody fight against drug trafficking organizations, sending newC.I.A. operatives and retired military personnel to the country and considering plans to deploy private security contractors in hopes of turning around a multibillion-dollar effort that so far has shown few results.
In recent weeks, small numbers of C.I.A. operatives and American civilian military employees have been posted at a Mexican military base, where, for the first time, security officials from both countries work side by side in collecting information about drug cartels and helping plan operations. Officials are also looking into embedding a team of American contractors inside a specially vetted Mexican counternarcotics police unit.
Officials on both sides of the border say the new efforts have been devised to get around Mexican laws that prohibit foreign military and police from operating on its soil, and to prevent advanced American surveillance technology from falling under the control of Mexican security agencies with long histories of corruption. To learn more please follow this link
Source: New York Times
Decriminalisation of drugs in Greece
The Greek government has made proposals to decrimanalise drugs in a bill put forward by the Justice Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou to the committee on social affairs. In the bill there are several new propositions most noticeably the decrimanalisation of drugs so long as it only affects the behaviour and condition of the user.
The planned drug reforms came about due to two core statistics firstly the fact that over 300 deaths are officially linked to drug abuse each year and secondly 40% of prisoners are detained on crimes associated to drugs (the figures include theft). The reforms aim to reduce young drug users and reduce trafficking of illegal substances.
Under the reforms drugs for personal consumption will be classed as only misconduct so long as it is used for only private use. There will be reduced guilt so long as the person in question can prove that the possession, supply and cultivation of cannabis is only for their personal possession.
The reforms will also guarantee the right to treatment including those in prison. In the case of prisoners a detoxification and rehabilitation program will be provided regardless if the court has recognised the prisoner as an addict offender or not. This is in line with the belief that drug addicts need help and not prison sentences. To learn more please follow this link
Source: Talking Drugs
Understanding Obama's "War on Drugs"
Last month I was interviewed on CNN.com as part of the network's coverage of the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon declaring the "war on drugs." It was just one of thousands of articles, broadcasts and blog posts featuring the voices of police officers, politicians and scholars marking an anniversary that offers little to celebrate. Many commentators across the political spectrum eagerly welcomed the opportunity to seriously examine the failures of our drug policies, evaluate possible reforms and opine on what it all might mean.
But not everyone was as excited by the opportunity for reflection on how we can make drug policy more effective. After reading my interview on CNN.com, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy apparently contacted the news organization and demanded equal time to defend the Obama administration's continuation of U.S. drug prohibition policies.
The published response presents a rare and revealing window into the thinking behind the nation's drug policy at the beginning of the fifth decade of the "war on drugs." The transcript is of great interest to anyone who wants to understand why -- despite clear scientific evidence, real-world experience and political opportunity -- a policy that is so obviously failed and is so profoundly harmful is able to continue year after year. To learn more please follow this link
Source: Huffington Post
‘Drug Control, Human Rights, and the Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health: A Reply to Saul Takahashi’
A recent article in this journal [Human Rights Quarterly] challenged claims that a human rights framework should be applied to drug control. This article questions the author’s assertions and reframes them in the context of socio-legal drug scholarship, aiming to build on the discourse concerning human rights and drug use. It is submitted that a rights-based approach is a necessary, indeed obligatory, ethical and legal framework through which to address drug use and that international human rights law provides the proper scope for determining where interferences with individual human rights might be justified on certain, limited grounds.
Download the article from Human Rights Quarterly Simon Flacks is a Ph.D. research fellow at the Empowerment Through Human Rights College, University of Vienna, Austria. He holds an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law from Birkbeck College, University of London, UK, and formerly worked for the Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) in London. He is a research associate with the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy
Source: Human Rights and Drugs
Rio de Janeiro's crack cocaine treatment program controversial
The girl, dazed, disheveled and appearing no older than 12, realized very quickly that she had chosen the wrong time to cross the train tracks running through a favela in Rio de Janeiro. She refused to give her name or any information to the bulky Brazilian social workers and heavily armed police officers who suspected that she was addicted to crack cocaine and living on the street.
"I'm not going with you. I'm not going anywhere. I'm just going to my mom's," she said. "OK, let's go talk to your mom then," said one city worker, flanked by several camera crew members wearing bulletproof vests. She stopped talking and didn't budge. When searched, she had nothing but a 5 real bill, worth about $3. "Let's take her in," a social worker said, putting the girl into a van packed with other children picked up that morning. All would be placed into an obligatory treatment program for at least three months.
The girl had stumbled into a new type of "collection" operation carried out periodically in Rio'scracolandias, or crack lands, which are street communities that attract people of all ages and where drug use is prevalent. Since the raids started in May, more than 1,000 people have been put into confined treatment, including hundreds of children, mostly against their will. The experimental program is being watched by the rest of the country as a possible model for dealing with Brazil's persistent problem of child homelessness and drug addiction. To learn more please follow this link
Source: LA Times
Feds allegedly allowed Sinaloa cartel to move cocaine into U.S. for information
U.S. federal agents allegedly allowed the Sinaloa drug cartel to traffic several tons of cocaine into the United States in exchange for information about rival cartels, according to court documents filed in a U.S. federal court.
The allegations are part of the defense of Vicente Zambada-Niebla, who was extradited to the United States to face drug-trafficking charges in Chicago. He is also a top lieutenant of drug kingpin Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman and the son of Ismael "Mayo" Zambada-Garcia, believed to be the brains behind the Sinaloa cartel.
The case could prove to be a bombshell on par with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' "Operation Fast and Furious," except that instead of U.S. guns being allowed to walk across the border, the Sinaloa cartel was allowed to bring drugs into the United States. Zambada-Niebla claims he was permitted to smuggle drugs from 2004 until his arrest in 2009. To learn more please follow this link
Source: El Paso Times
Prison Reform in Latin America and the Caribbean
03 August 2011 - The recently established Centre of Excellence on Prison Reform and Drug Demand Reduction in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, forms part of UNODC's efforts to strengthen criminal justice in Latin America and the Caribbean. Working with authorities to enhance capacity, the Centre promotes effective policies and delivery of training programmes.
The issue of prison reform is a particular concern within the region. Overcrowding, poor prison conditions and health services, lack of planning and resources, and lack of social reintegration programmes are just some of the challenges. In addition, more attention needs to be given to prisoners with special needs such as women, children in detention and children of incarcerated mothers, prisoners with mental healthcare requirements, and drug dependent prisoners.
Prison reform is an important part of a country's justice sector. In addition to ensuring humane conditions, it must take into account other considerations including imprisonment and its links to poverty, public health, and societal impact as well as public finances. To learn more please follow this link
EMCDDA’s DrugNet Europe, July - September 2011
Survey results: youth attitudes to drugs: The European Commission published on 11 July the results of its fourth survey exploring Youth attitudes on drugs. This ‘Flash Eurobarometer’ is based on telephone interviews conducted in May 2011 with over 12 000 randomly selected young people (aged 15–24) in all 27 EU Member States. It builds on three earlier Eurobarometer surveys carried out in 2002, 2004 and 2008. Full article >>
International day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking:‘Global action for healthy communities without drugs’, was the theme of this year’s International day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking (26 June). It is also the focus of the international campaign led by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to raise awareness on the major challenge that illicit drugs represent to society as a whole, and especially to the young. Full article >>
EMCDDA cooperates in ongoing studies: Drug-related research is crucial to understanding Europe’s drug problems. In recent years, the subject has received increased attention, with several European Commission (EC)-funded projects launched. The EMCDDA is currently cooperating with three of these projects. To read this and more, please follow this link
UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women issues recommendations in relation to Women, HIV/AIDS prevention and Prisons
UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) issued its concluding observations on Italy’s sixth periodic review. The Committee recommended the Italian government undertake measures to provide ‘sensitive health services and preventive health care for women affected by HIV/AIDS in prisons’. In paragraphs 44-45 the Committee also expressed concerns about the lack of systematic and comparable data on HIV prevalence amongst women who use drugs in prison. CEDAW requested this data for the next state report to the Committee.
A full version of the concluding observations is available here Harm Reduction International (HRI) together with its Partner organizations - Itaca Association, Associazione Antigone, Associazione Nazionale Giuristi Democratici, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, submitted a report to the Committee highlighting Italy’s gaps regarding women and drug use, drug offending and prisons. HRI recommended that:
- Gender-sensitive HIV/AIDS prevention and care services for women prisoners who inject drugs be developed, including substitution treatment;
- Official, appropriately disaggregated data be gathered to better understand the situation and needs of those women who use drugs and those in contact with the criminal justice system;
- A nationwide study on women, HIV/AIDS and drug use is urgently required to better respond the injection-driven epidemic in the country (including in prisons).
HRI calls on the Italian government to take all appropriate measures for the implementation of the recommendations made by the Committee and incorporate civil society members in developing the relevant responses to the HIV/ADS amongst drug user women communities.
Full joint alternative report is available here
Mitch Winehouse renews plea to MPs over drug rehabilitation services
The father of Amy Winehouse, who plans to set up a residential drug rehabilitation centre in memory of his daughter, won the backing of MPs for his campaign to highlight gaps in addiction treatment services in Britain.
After meeting Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, Mitch Winehouse said he wanted to do something for those problem drug users who could not afford private treatment.
"I want to involve myself in things that would have been important to Amy," said Winehouse after a 45-minute meeting with Vaz at the Commons. "That is why we are going to be setting up the Amy Winehouse Foundation. This isn't only important to me, this is important to our whole country. To learn more please follow this link
Source: The Guardian
Tottenham riot: a community blighted by drugs and gun crime
But while many of those involved in the weekend’s unrest were not even been born when the previous riots took place, many of the social problems remain unchanged.
The north London community forms the core of the London Borough of Haringey, one of the most deprived areas in Britain, blighted by gang culture, drugs and gun crime.
Police have for decades fought in vain to counter the area’s numerous postcode gangs – most notably Tottenham Mandem – whose feuding and drugs wars have resulted in scores of deaths. To learn more please follow this link
Source: The Telegraph
Breaking the Taboo: Tackling drug addiction
Mitch Winehouse met with MPs this week to urge them to give addicts more chances to get better by focusing on rehabilitation and not criminal justice. The controversial subject of drug addiction has been brought up once more with the death of Mitch’s 27-year-old daughter, singer Amy Winehouse, and when some one dies so young it is impossible not to wonder: is it time for a new approach?
The documentary “Breaking the Taboo” brings together former political leaders to open an honest debate about drug trafficking and addiction. Seeking the opinions of leaders like Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso travelled the world to see how different countries deal with the war on drugs. The result is an eye opening documentary.
Forty years ago, the United States declared war on drugs; this zero tolerance policy has not helped in the least, as drug traffickers have found ways around the strict laws. The film shows that not only is it extremely easy to buy drugs anywhere but that there are no prisons free of drugs; even the maximum security prisons are full of them. To learn more please follow this link
Source: The Independent
Payment by Results co-design group consultatssion
Both DrugScope and UKDPC have expressed concerns about the practical challenges of developing Drug Recovery PbR pilots, particularly given the time constraints on the codesign process.
In other areas of health and social care, PbR models have been developed over a period of several years (for example, PbR for mental health services has been in development for around seven years, with implementation of currencies for mental health PbR now expected in 2012-13). By contrast, the design of the Drug Recovery PbR pilots – which are arguably even more ambitious - is being attempted in under 12 months. The codesign period began in April 2011, with the intention of launching the pilots in September/October 2011.
We are concerned that the planned timetable will result in PBR systems being introduced in the pilot areas before they have been properly developed – in our view, considerably more time is needed if we are to get this right. To learn more please follow this link
East Jerusalem Suffers Heroin Plague
"I didn't think I would ever stop", Abu Salah tells the circle. "After 14 years of buying and selling, hashish, heroin and cocaine, I had lost control of my life. I had no job. I would never speak to my family." His story, and the clinic we are sitting in, is an indication of how Palestine's drug problem is fast becoming a crisis. The towns in and around East Jerusalem have become breeding grounds for addiction, made vulnerable by poverty and a lack of security.
Unlike neighbouring Egypt and Lebanon, Palestine has no historic connection with the drugs trade. Its arrival has been sudden and spectacular, with heroin in particular spreading like wildfire. Al Quds University estimates there are over 6,000 addicts in East Jerusalem today, compared with 300 in 1986. In the town of Al Ram, pressed up against Israel's Separation Barrier, degradation has set in. Once a lively suburb of Jerusalem, since 2006 it has been locked out by the Barrier, which surrounds it on three sides. The effect of this sudden disconnection from the city has been devastating.
One-third of all businesses have been forced to close, 75 per cent of youths under 24 are unemployed, and around half of the town's 62,000 residents have been denied the ID they require to enter Jerusalem. To learn more please follow this link
Don’t Praise Iran’s War on Drugs
The Iranian regime won high praise last month from Yuri Fedotov, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Iran had "one of the world's strongest counter-narcotics responses", he said, and its good practices "deserve the acknowledgement of the international community".
His remarks came a little more than two weeks after Iran's state media announced that 13 drug traffickers had been executed in Mashhad's Vakilabad prison since 21 March. In May, the judiciary announced that at least 300 more were on death row for drug-related offences.
So far this year, official Iranian sources have reported more than 100 of these executions. Iranian and international human rights groups fear the numbers are much higher. If retributive justice is the sole hallmark of a "strong" anti-narcotics response, Fedotov's words are spot on. Last year, Iranian authorities signalled plans to intensify prosecutions for drug crimes.
They amended the anti-narcotics law, which already imposed corporal punishment for less serious drug crimes and the death penalty for trafficking, possession or trade of more than 5kg of opium, 30g of heroin or morphine (and repeated offences involving smaller amounts) or the manufacture of more than 50g of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamines a capital offence. To learn more please follow this link
Source: The Guardian
Peru appoints Ricardo Soberon as new president of Devida
Drug trafficking expert Ricardo Soberon was appointed as the new executive president of Peru's National commission for the development of life without drugs (Devida). The appointment was made official through a supreme resolution signed by Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and Prime Minister Salomon Lerner, published on Friday in El Peruano official gazette.
Soberon is a member of the Drugs and Democracy programme at the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute’s and author of several studies and publications on drugs and drug trafficking. The new Devida’s president recently told Andina news agency that the government must implement a new five-year joint strategy to fight drug trafficking which includes the reduction of rural poverty and the dismantling of criminal organizations.
Moreover, Soberon noted that it is necessary to set goals and indicators (such as the reduction of rural poverty in areas where coca leaf is produced) and provide more economic, social and cultural rights in villages and communities in the Peruvian jungle.
Federal judge throws out Florida's drug law
A federal judge ruled July 27 that Florida's drug law was unconstitutional, leaving thousands of criminal cases up in the air. US District Court Judge Mary Scriven of Orlando threw out the Florida Drug Abuse Prevention and Control law on the grounds that it violates due process because it does not require prosecutors to prove a person knew he or she possessed illegal drugs.
In 2002, Florida legislators amended the state's drug law, eliminating the requirement that prosecutors prove mens rea, or criminal intent, as part of obtaining a conviction. Florida was the only state in the nation to not require mens rea as part of a drug conviction.
"Not surprisingly, Florida stands alone in its express elimination of mens rea as an element of a drug offense," Scriven wrote in her order. "Other states have rejected such a draconian and unreasonable construction of the law that would criminalize the 'unknowing' possession of a controlled substance."
The ruling came in the case of Mackle Vincent Shelton, 33, who was convicted in 2005 of drug charges in Osceola County. Shelton, who is currently serving an 18-year prison sentence for cocaine delivery and other charges, appealed his conviction on the grounds that the jury wasn't required to consider intent in order to convict him. To learn more please follow this link
Launch of new website - ThinkingDrugs
ThinkingDrugs allows the public to explore some of the arguments that are central to drug policy in the form of an argument map. The website looks at the arguments while referencing the situation in Russia, the Netherlands, Mexico and the UK.
The results at the end allow the public to come to twelve different possible positions and then tweet them or post them to their Facebook wall. The website is available in Russian, Spanish and English
The website was produced by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in conjunction with Release, supported by Open Society Foundations.
Petition President Obama to end illegal arms trafficking to Mexico
Mexico is experiencing the worst bloodshed in its modern history, with over 34,000 people killed in drug-related violence since 2006. This violence has brought devastation and grief to thousands of families across Mexico and is being fueled by weapons flowing illegally from the United States to Mexico. According to statistics from the U.S. government, more than 80% of the weapons that were seized in Mexico and submitted for tracing between 2004 and 2008 came through the United States.
Mexican civil society has formed an energized movement calling for peace, justice, and a rebuilding of the social fabric that has been severly damaged by ongoing violence. As part of this larger movement for peace, please join with Mexican organizations Alianza Cívica, Propuesta Cívica, Cencos, and Evolución Mexicana, along with WOLA and other U.S. organizations to petition President Obama to take action to end illegal arms trafficking to Mexico.
The petition calls on the Obama administration to take three concrete actions that would help reduce the violence in Mexico and also make communities in the United States safer. Sign the petition, promote it on your Facebook or Twitter, and add your voice to the movement for peace in Mexico. Help us reach 10,000 signatures!
Israel Cabinet Approves Medical Marijuana Guidelines
The Israeli cabinet Sunday gave its approval to medical marijuana guidelines that will govern the supply of marijuana for medical and research purposes. In so doing, it explicitly agreed that marijuana does indeed have medical uses.
"The cabinet today approved arrangements and supervision regarding the supply of cannabis for medical and research uses," said a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman. "This is in recognition that the medical use of cannabis is necessary in certain cases. The Health Ministry will -- in coordination with the Israel Police and the Israel Anti-Drug Authority -- oversee the foregoing and will also be responsible for supplies from imports and local cultivation."
The cabinet move comes on the heels of the Health Ministry's decision last week to deal with supply problems by setting up a unit within the department to grow medical marijuana. That unit will begin operating in January 2012. To learn more please follow this link
Source: Stop the Drug War
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