‘It’s tough to get drug dealers in court,’ says NDEA


25-May-2013

Minister Meriton addressing delegates at the workshop yesterday

This emerged after a question on the arrest rate of drug dealers posed to deputy chief of the NDEA, Liam Quinn, by Anglican Bishop James Wong at a workshop held yesterday to validate the National Drug Control Master Plan.

“It’s one thing to know where the drug dealers are and what they’re doing, but to use a maritime expression, it is quite difficult to ‘land’ them in court,” said Mr Quinn.

“Evidence and information are completely different things. We have the profiles of thousands of people who we believe to be involved with drugs, but we are never going to get everybody before the courts. In order to convict somebody testimony or evidence in terms of an exhibit is needed, so without that there is no value whatsoever in giving evidence which is not sustainable in court.”

Mr Quinn said there were currently 112 drug-related cases pending in the courts, and that drug traffickers tended to be legally well-represented, which tended to make the cases against them drag on in court for longer.

“People who finance drug trafficking invariably never handle drugs, and their accounts are always offshore. Most of the business is conducted outside the country itself, mostly in countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Dubai, South Africa and Mauritius,” he said.

Participants at the validation workshop, which was also attended by the Minister for Education, Macsuzy Mondon, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, David Pierre, principal secretary for social affairs Linda William-Melanie, Anglican Bishop James Wong, members of the National Assembly, government agencies, social workers, parents associations, NGOs and teachers, were tasked with coming up with a common vision and strategy for all aspects of clamping down on illegal drug use in Seychelles.

The cost of combating the country’s drug problem in the future could be too high a price to pay if we fail to invest in and act upon a coordinated national plan to tackle the issue now, according to the Minister for Social Affairs, Community Development and Sports, Vincent Meriton.

“In this fight against drug trafficking, we need to ensure that we are more organised, more professional and vastly more committed in our efforts than the traffickers. We need to realise that half-hearted efforts will get us nowhere,” said Mr Meriton.

“I am convinced, at least on paper, we have the measures and policies in place to build on the start that we have made,” he said.

“But just like we cannot afford to keep sending our young men to prison, we also cannot afford to leave this master plan languishing at the bottom of our shelf gathering dust.”

“Today, it is not my hope but my expectation that we deliver with this master plan. If we want to sustain the difference that we are making, then we need, all of us, to intensify our efforts and fully commit ourselves to its implementation.”

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