NDEA meets the press: ‘No NDEA agent is above the law’ | 05 August 2015
The NDEA (National Drugs Enforcement Agency) has often been criticised for rogue operations, not respecting the citizens’ rights or not respecting the law. In order to clarify its mission, functions and the way it carries out its operations, the agency which functions independently of the police, conducted a PR exercise by meeting members of the local press yesterday afternoon.
For the NDEA, it was also important to seek media partnership to support the anti-drug effort by educating and creating awareness and through responsible reporting and constructive criticism.
The agency claims that the media sometimes publish unverified reports or resort to selective reporting.
“This consequently creates an atmosphere of mistrust which only benefits the drug traffickers,” remarked NDEA chief officer Niall Scully, who made a general presentation of the NDEA to the group of journalists present.
Mr Scully, who defined the NDEA as an “intelligence driven organisation”, emphasised that apart from the media, the NDEA needs the cooperation of the entire community.
“No law enforcement agency can exist without the cooperation of the community. Law enforcement is a last resort and it comes after parents, teachers, social workers and the general community,” he said.
Responding to critics of rogue operations and NDEA agents not respecting the law, attitudes which can affect public cooperation, Mr Scully wanted to ensure that no NDEA agent is above the law.
“There are claims that an NDEA agent can do what he wants. He cannot. He can be taken to task and be identified in Court,” he ensured.
In case of a drug search, he insisted that even if a warrant is not needed, the owner or occupant of the place must be present during the search.
The NDEA boss however accepts that his boys sometimes make mistakes.
“We do make mistakes,” he accepted.
One other big mistake seems to have been corruption and Mr Scully is adamant that his agency is doing all it can to stop the practice.
As a result of its anti-corruption policy, the agency has lost about 20 officers since 2008 and a certain number of them have even gone to jail.
“Like all organisations in Seychelles, we can suffer from corruption. It’s a fact of life not only in Seychelles but everywhere in the world, especially when you are dealing with drugs,” he remarked.
He however ensured that, apart from the agents being well paid, the organisation has an internal mechanism which permits to keep sight of their assets and monitor suspected illegal gains.
Questioned about a resent case where two drug suspects who happen to be army officers have been released, Mr Scully has explained that investigation in the case is ongoing and that the suspects have been freed due to lack of evidence, a situation which the NDEA claims to be temporary.
He seized the opportunity to insist on the apolitical nature of the NDEA.
“We cannot politicise the drug issue as it affects every one of us at every level. It is a national problem and not a political problem,” he insisted.
Responding to the suggestion to legalise cannabis as a way of controlling hard drugs, Mr Scully responded that cannabis is currently illegal in Seychelles and the agents have no choice but to enforce the legislation.
“Ultimately, the decision to legalise or not is one of the government and people of Seychelles,” he concluded.
In its quest of community cooperation and to reply to its motto of “one team one fight”, for any information which can prove useful, the NDEA is urging members of the public not to hesitate to call 2781451 or 4611909.