R37 million worth of drugs destroyed


Destroying the drugs yesterday in the Seychelles Hospital’s incinerator

The exercise took place at the Seychelles Hospital’s incinerator in the presence of members of the judiciary criminal justice stakeholders committee.

They include the judiciary, attorney general, National Drugs Enforcement Agency (NDEA), Bar association, prison authorities and the police.

Cases related to the drugs have either ended in a sentence, acquittal or the defendants have exhausted their right of appeal.

A large contingent of security forces was present at the incinerator which the authorities said was a necessary move in view of such a large amount of drugs with a high market value, and could be an attractive target for those who might wish to attempt to steal it.

The drugs, which were burned over a two-hour period, were mainly cannabis plants, cannabis resin (popularly known as hashish) and heroin.

The judiciary criminal justice stakeholders committee was set up recently with the aim of bringing together all agencies that work in the administration of justice for better cooperation, communication and coordination.

The chairman of the committee, Judge Duncan Gaswaga, said the drug-destroying exercise was a very necessary one.

“Once the judiciary hears cases and sentences or acquits whoever has been arrested, those drugs remain as exhibits and we have no further use for them. The law says they have to be destroyed. And with all these drugs having accumulated in our stores we now simply carry out the legal process of destroying them,” he said.

Judge Gaswaga said the committee has set up a programme to repeat this activity of destroying narcotic drugs three times a year, depending on the amount of drugs accumulated after each trimester.

The NDEA chief officer Niall Scully said the exercise is one that would ensure accountability and professionalism on the part of the authorities.

“The operation where the most amount of drugs have been seized was during an operation in December last year at Anse Etoile, where 20kg of cannabis with an approximate value of R10 million was seized,” he said.

“We have said before that the fight against drugs is under control and we still stand by this statement today. In the coming weeks and months the public is going to see some significant prosecutions and moves on a number of organised criminals in Seychelles.”

Speaking about the perception that not all of the drugs seized actually made it to the exhibit room or are eventually destroyed, Mr Scully said their work speaks for itself.

“With an excess of over R37 million of drugs destroyed here today, we are definitely assuring the public that all of the drugs we seize do make it to the courts as exhibits and eventually to the incinerator,” he said.

Attorney General Rony Govinden said an amendment to the law that has already passed before the national assembly and is soon to be a law says the prosecution can present a motion before a judge asking that the drugs related to a case can be destroyed even before the case is adjourned – for example, drugs that has already been analysed and their nature confirmed before a court of law and where the defendant does not object to the confirmed nature of the drugs.

If the defence also does not have any objections then the drugs can be destroyed after a court order, which will also reduce the risk of these exhibits being seen as a prize to potential thieves.

Interestingly, not all of the drugs destroyed yesterday were directly linked to court cases. The majority of the drugs were said to have been found by the anti-drug agencies without any arrests made, such as a consignment of drugs found floating in the sea off Ile Perseverance or drugs simply found in plantations and confiscated.