THE recent massive drug busts in the country demand for Namibia to self-introspect and further raises questions on how the country has become a soft target for illicit drugs and a freeway of smuggling to other countries.
Despite all efforts by authorities and Police to cope with the use of drugs and smuggling them, there is no denying that Namibia has become a paradise for drug smugglers and drug trafficking, a situation that needs urgent resolve and possibly, policy reform.
In this edition, Confidente has unearthed that a staggering 588 000 kg in illicit drugs ranging from mandrax, cocaine, crystal meth and cannabis with a street value of nearly N$250 million were confiscated at seven of the country’s ports of entry in the past 18 months.
While drug traffickers inclusive of Angolans, Swatis, Malawians, Nigerians, Namibians as well as Zambians have been arrested these shocking high statistics point to how smugglers have found their activities easier to pursue via Namibia with the current drug law looking extensively porous.
As we realise that crimes relating to drugs, predominantly dealing or possession/use of prohibited or dangerous dependence-producing substances, are created in the Abuse of Dependence-producing Substances and Rehabilitation Centres Act, Act 41 of 1971, we must also begin to acknowledge that this Act is relatively old and may not sufficiently address the increasing incidents of drug offences in Namibia.
This policy of drug prohibition may be philosophically justified on the grounds of the public harm principle; however, it clear that it is not a policy which is effectively achieving its purpose effectively and the Namibian government should start to re-evaluate drug policy, as called upon by the Global Commission which categorises drug offences as crimes against public welfare.
It is also worth highlighting that this statutory law on drugs in its various sections makes no mention specifically of the offence of drug trafficking. In fact, no mention is specifically made of the offence of drug trafficking in the rest of the Namibian Drug Act. Thus although it is a fact that drug trafficking is rife in Namibia there is no provision in the Namibian Drug Legislation dealing specifically with the issue of drug trafficking as it only criminalises the possession, use of or dealing in drugs.
In its porous nature this Act which needs to be replaced with a stiffer and tighter law prescribes that the accused are charged with either dealing in or being in possession of a dependence producing substance, be it prohibited, dangerous or potentially dangerous. Thus those found trafficking drugs are charged with either having used, possessed or dealt in such drug.
While we fully acknowledge that in the context of criminalising the use, possession and dealing in drugs, Namibia is in compliance the UN Drugs Convention of 1988, it is now time for the country to repel and replace the Abuse of Dependence Producing Substances and Rehabilitation Centres Act, Act 41 of 1971 which clearly does not specifically criminalise drug trafficking.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015