Judiciary puts in place drug sentences review tribunal |14 June 2016
The Chief Justice is constituting a tribunal to review the sentences of persons sentenced under the recently repealed Misuse of Drugs Act, 1990, as amended (“the repealed Act”).
This is in terms of section 51(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 2016 (“the Act”).
Persons who have been found guilty of an offence under the repealed Act and are serving a sentence of imprisonment under the repealed Act may apply to the tribunal in terms of section 51(2) of the Act for the review of the outstanding portion of that sentence.
Those who were already convicted on June 1, 2016, they must bring their application by August 31, 2016.Applications received after that date will not be considered.
As for persons who were charged under the repealed Act as of June 1, 2016 (but not yet convicted), and who are subsequently convicted of an offence under the repealed Act, they will also be entitled to apply to the tribunal. These applications must be made within three months of the date of sentencing.
According to the judiciary, the application must be on the correct form which may be obtained from the criminal registry at the Supreme Court and Magistrates Courts.
The application must be supported by an affidavit by the applicant with any supporting evidence that the applicant may think is relevant to the tribunal. Applicants do not need to obtain the help of an attorney-at-law in order to make the application.
The judiciary has added that in considering an application, the tribunal shall take into account:
(a) Whether the offence in question would be treated as an offence of an aggravated nature under the Act, in which case there shall be a presumption against review;
(b) The relative severity of the sentence for the offence in light of the law in force at the time the sentence was passed;
(c) The range of sentences that might be imposed if the offender were to be convicted of a similar offence under the Act;
(d) The conduct of the offender while in prison and the evidence of his or her rehabilitation; and
(e) The prospect of social reintegration and the risk of reoffending if the offender is released.
[Section 51(8) of the Act]
All applications should be sent to the criminal registry of the Supreme Court, Ile Du Port.
Applicants will be granted an opportunity to be heard by the tribunal at a hearing which will be arranged by the Court.
Members of the public are informed that the tribunal will only consider the sentence and will have the power to confirm or vary the sentence. The tribunal is not empowered to vary the conviction.