PNG’s drug laws need overhaul


PAPUA New Guinea currently uses the Drug Act 1954 which is only a slap-on-the-wrist jail term.
It is time to amend the Drug Act so maximum penalty can be dished out to those growing, harvesting or being in procession of illegal drugs.
With the change in time, this Act should be amended so authorities have ammunition to penalise not only marijuana dealers but those who want to try their hand on morphine, cocaine or ice.
Compared to Indonesia, our closest of neighbour, we are poles apart when it comes to drug offences and penalties.
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 twenty years in jail.
Other drugs carry jail terms of up to twelve years and the sale of drugs is punishable by death.
That is the grim contrast.
Indonesian Police last week allegedly shot a Papua New Guinean citizen on their wanted list for drug smuggling in Jayapura during the Indonesian special Covid-19 state of emergency.
He is a notorious drug smuggler and a serial escapee.
He had escaped in 2018 after being sentenced by an Indonesian Court for drug smuggling.
He was then caught for drug smuggling and sentenced in 2019 and escaped. This is the third time he is caught for drug smuggling while on the run.
The National has been reporting about PNG citizens detained in Indonesian jails for drug smuggling.
Their rules are very strict and 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 no way a deterrent to those involved in what many say is a lucrative business.
Drug related offences especially on marijuana trafficking has increased.
Despite knowing it is an illegal drug, people continue to cultivate it secretly for commercial purposes.
In January 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 such as 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 will 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 the transit base for the worlds drug trading.

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