New law to boost fight against drugs |07 April 2016
A new piece of modern and comprehensive legislation which will enhance the fight against drugs will come into force soon.
It will provide for more effective measures to fight drug trafficking, abuse and make easier investigation in such offences and prosecution of offenders as well as promote treatment, education, rehabilitation, recovery and social reintegration of addicts.
The new law -- the Misuse of Drugs Act 2016 -- will replace the one enacted in 1990.
The Minister for Home Affairs Charles Bastienne tabled the Misuse of Drugs Bill before the National Assembly during its session on Tuesday morning for members’ consideration, debate and approval.
The Bill received unanimous approval from Assembly members.
For the different provisions of the new law to be effective, amendments to the Prisons Act as well as the Criminal Procedure Code were also required and these were also tabled by Minister Bastienne.
Section 21 (3) of the Prisons Act was amended to provide for drug dependent persons convicted under the drug law to be kept separately in the prison.
An amendment was also necessary in Section 30 (2) to limit the restriction for granting remission to a prisoner serving a sentence under the Misuse of Drugs Act only to those prisoners who are serving a sentence of imprisonment for an aggravated offence under the drug law.
The amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code repealed paragraph 7 of its Seventh Schedule to provide for a sentence of imprisonment for offences under the drug law to be suspended by the Court.
Presenting the Misuse of Drugs Bill to the House Minister Bastienne noted that it takes into account the different challenges that our country is facing today as a result of drug use and abuse in the country.
This, he said, includes the increasing number of people serving drug related prison sentences, a situation which is worrying and is not sustainable, an increase in the number of addicts in spite of more detoxification services and programmes being offered.
He said measures being applied to address drug-related offences and crimes are no longer effective and relevant in the current drug dilemma the country is dealing with.
“The new law will provide for the introduction of different new initiatives which will be more effective and transparent with regard to supply reduction, harm reduction and in particular demand reduction,” Minister Bastienne said.
He went on to explain that applying the new drug law will confirm Seychelles’ stance internationally with regard to the fight against drugs and its effort to safeguard public health.
Minister Bastienne said the new drug law -- which formed part of the measures and initiatives President James Michel announced in December he would implement during the first 100 days of his new mandate -- is modern, comprehensive and covers all the different components and aspects of drug issues and gives the Court flexibility to impose sentences as it deems appropriate and it places more emphasis on rehabilitation rather than incarceration.
The drug scourge which is invading our society touching all families and the country’s workforce prompted vibrant debate in the House for a whole day.
Elected member for Mont Fleuri Bergitta Jeannevol said the drug situation is really distressing and our young people who are falling prey to the traffickers will have a better chance to be treated.
For majority party member Maria Payet Marie the different programmes and other initiatives to fight drugs are good but the new law will hopefully provide the modern framework for a more effective and coordinated approach.
“Drug has invaded our society and it is everywhere even in schools where pupils are being used as pushers. We have laws that protect children but all agencies, organisations and concerned parties should work more closely together to put a stop to drug importation. Government is looking for the best way to deal with the drug problem but we all need to do our part as the fight is not one which will be won easily without all of us giving a helping hand,” elected member for Anse Boileau Bernard Arnephy said.