PNG needs to get tough on drug crimes

Editorial

IT is time to amend the Drug Act 1954 relating to the maximum penalty that can be dished out to those growing, harvesting or being in procession of illegal drugs.
With the change in time, this act must be amended so authorities have ammunition to penalise not marijuana dealers but those who want to try their hand on morphine, cocaine or ice.
The Drug Act 1954 only allows the maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and the minimum could be a fine.
Police in PNG currently use the Drug Act 1954 which is only a slap-on-the-wrist jail term.
Compared to Indonesia, our closest of neighbour, we are poles apart when it comes to drug offences and penalties.
In PNG, while concerned authorities are pleading for the needed change of law to increase penalties, one can get away with a slap-on-the-wrist jail term.
Across the border, a drug offender of the worst sort faces death.
Indonesian drug laws are harsh.
If you are caught with marijuana, you can get up to 20 years in jail.
Other drugs carry jail terms of up to 12 years, and the sale of drugs is punishable by death.
That is the grim contrast.
The National has been reporting about PNG citizens detained in Indonesian jails for drug smuggling.
Their rules are very strict.
We believe our reports are enough awareness for our people to know what their fate is, should they attempt to smuggle drugs into Indonesia.
In PNG, the soft penalties are definitely in no way a deterrent to those involved in what many say is a lucrative business.
Drug-related offences in the country, especially marijuana trafficking, have increased with police now calling a review on the current Drug Act used for tougher penalties.
Despite knowing it is an illegal drug, people continue to cultivate it secretly for commercial purposes.
With trade and business agreements between PNG and Indonesia already in place, it would not hurt if we ask for guidance in amending the Drug Act 1954 and incorporate some of their penalties like traffickers receiving death penalty into ours.
According to Wikipedia, in Jan 2015, Indonesia carried out six executions, among them one Dutchman, one Brazilian, one Vietnamese, one Malawian and one Nigerian for drug-related crimes.
Not only can PNG ask help from Indonesia, but other Apec countries as well like Malaysia, China, Singapore and Philippines.
They are named as in the 20 countries with the harshest drug laws in the world, according to an American Addition Centre that deals with drug abuse.
In Malaysia, those who sell drugs can be punished with death.
Just for having drugs in your possession, you can be fined, jailed or deported.
In China, if you are caught with drugs, you could be forced to attend drug rehab in a facility run by the government.
Execution is the penalty for some drug crimes.
Singaporean police will assume that you are selling drugs if you are caught with relatively small amounts.
If you are convicted of selling drugs, you will be sentenced to death.
In the Philippines, drug traffickers are sentenced to death.
You may be presumed to be a drug trafficker, if you have more than a third of an ounce of a drug in your possession.
That is the gravity with which these countries treat drug offences, which is very unlike the several months of imprisonment in a PNG prison for crimes of similar nature.
It is time for a major overhaul of the current drug penalty, otherwise PNG will become a transit base for the world’s drug trading.

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