Monday, September 16, 2013

New anti-drugs law making process kicks off

With Tanzania on spotlight over spiraling drug trafficking, the government has now invited stakeholders to give views that could pave way for the enactment of a more stringent law to curb the menace. The Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs),  William Lukuvi said in Dar es Salaam over the week that the government had decided to work in collaboration with human rights activists and other civil society groups, saying they had a wider knowledge and understanding over drug trafficking and abuse in the country. Lukuvi was speaking at a news conference where he noted that the government’s intention was to allow individual groups to contribute their views  which could facilitate the drafting of a   new Bill to repeal The Drugs and Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Drug Act” Chapter 95 together with the Miscellaneous Amendments No. 2 of 2012 which are in use today. He added that such contributions would help the attainment of an effective new Act sufficient enough to enable law enforcers in the fight against the increased phenomenon which has tainted the country’s image globally. He further argued that the stakeholders would be allowed to contribute views which are not in the current Act with the aim of ensuring the attainment of a better Act that could have an overall control of curbing and preventing the whole problem which has become a subject of debate across the country. He also said that the government had since invited interested stakeholders to get a copy of the current Act titled, “The drugs and Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Drug Act” Chapter 95 together with the Miscellaneous Amendments No. 2 of 2012. He noted that, they should visit the site and read it and then send their views through an email  These should be ready by end of October this year after that the bill will be tabled in Parliament during its 13th session in November this year for approval. 

Minister of State in Prime Minister's office responsible for Policy, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs Mr. William Lukuvi

According to Lukuvi, the government realizes the need to wipe off the current law and enact a new one which could help bring positive changes to curb increased drug sales. He also outlined other measures to be introduced, such as establishment of an independent organization with overall control of prevention and combating illegal trafficking, including sale and the use of narcotic drugs across the country. However, he noted that the organization to be established would have to work independently – in managing, controlling and processing the apprehended culprits. Lukuvi also noted that the government would form a separate special law court to specifically deal with issues related to narcotic drugs and hearing of such cases.  However, Lukuvi who recently refused to name the drug dealers in Parliament for security reasons, has admitted that the problem was “serious and is persisting.” He noted one such reason was that, under the current Act, the penalty imposed on drug barons and producers was not severe enough, which is why the government wants to repeal it immediately. He noted that under Section 21, convicted drug manufacturers pay a fine of 10m/- or serve life imprisonment irrespective of the value or bulk of the drugs they are caught with. He said this wasn’t severe enough compared to the value of a single kilogram of cocaine alone – which is sold at 50m/-, which why most of the convicts opt to pay a fine and are set free to continue with their business.  Lukuvi also pointed said the country’s Drug Control Commission doesn’t have enough legal mandate to deal with such things as investigations, arresting of suspects and processing them to court. Instead, this was done by police and intelligence security officers who are already overburdened by other activities and have precious little time to concentrate on such matters. So the government must look for alternatives. The current drug Act has not specified how to defend people who tip security personnel of people whom they suspect to be dealing in trafficking or manufacturing of the drugs. Neither does it specify correctly what actions should be taken against those who give information leading to the arrest of suspects, nor measures to ensure their security.

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