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Brazil removing independents from drugs policy council

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro smiles while wearing a Soya Growers' Association hat at the end of a swearing-in ceremony for the newly-named president of Brazil's Development Bank, at the Planalto presidential palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, July 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is removing most non-government representatives from a council that sets policy on drug abuse. That continues an approach he’s applied to environmental and cultural affairs.

A presidential decree published Monday nearly halves the size of the council that oversees policy on drugs and advises the government and Congress.

The action removes experts chosen by associations of jurists, physicians, social workers and other independent groups, leaving mostly those appointed by the government.

Critics have accused Bolsonaro of trying to stifle dissenting voices on policy-setting bodies.

Bolsonaro has taken a tough-on-crime stance and is a fervent opponent of drug policy liberalization, such as steps toward decriminalization recommended by the United Nations and World Health Organization.

The Associated Press