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22.08.2005 General News

90% Narcotic Offenders Absconed

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90% Narcotic Offenders Absconed

Accra, AUG 22, Graphic -- Statistics covering the period 2001 to 2004 indicate that 90 per cent of narcotic offenders who have been granted bail have absconded, a Chief State Attorney, Mr Anthony Gyambiby, has disclosed.

According to him, most cases, the sureties are also not traceable to extract the bond against them, stressing that this state of affairs defeats the purpose of the control of narcotics and enforcement of narcotic laws by the relevant agencies.

“What is the use of applying state resources and efforts to arrest narcotic offenders only to be granted bail for them to abscond, thus rendering all the efforts and resources involved nugatory,” he stated.

Mr Gyambiby stated this when he presented a paper on “Problems faced by Prosecutors in the Prosecution of Narcotic Drugs Offences” at a three-day workshop organised by the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) and sponsored by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at Ada for law enforcement officers,prosecutors and judges.

He, therefore,called for a comprehensive review of the Narcotic Drugs(Control,Enforcement and Sanctions) Law, PNDC Law 236, to provide proper definitions and classifications of narcotic drug offences and also make the offence non-bailable.

“Having regard to the current high incidents of narcotic trafficking offences, both domestically and internationally, the great danger narcotics pose to the health of our youth,and other attendant incidents like robbery, terrorism, rape and the like, a narcotic offence of grave nature should be included under Section 96 (7)of the Criminal Procedure Code Act 30 as a non-bailable offence,” he suggested.

Commenting on other defects of the law, Mr Gyambiby said in meting out sentence to the offenders the law did not have regard to the quantum, nature, type or hardness of the narcotic drug in respect of which the offence was committed.

He said this state of the law was draconian and unfair and pointed out that in other parts of the world,narcotic drugs were classified according to their hardness.

“The harder the drug, the more stiff the punishment for it will be and the more the quantity,the more lengthy the sentence,”he said.

Mr Gyambiby said under PNDCL 236,a person who carried a Class “A” drug suffered the same punishment as the person who carried a class “B” drug and they suffered the same punishment as people who carried class “C” drugs, stressing that “it was incorrect,since all offences under the Criminal Code 1960,Act 29, have different sentences and punishments attached to them”.

According to him,the narcotic law did not also make provision for any other forms of measures which were corrective,rehabilitative or reformatory for users of narcotic drugs; instead,a minimum sentence of five years had been prescribed.

“It is an undeniable fact that what such users need is a reformative and rehabilitative environment in order for them to do away with this canker and become productive to the society.

A term of imprisonment is certainly not the best especially having regard to the deplorable state of our prisons,” he contended.

The Executive Secretary of the Narcotics Control Board, Colonel Isaac K. Akuoko (retd), said he was happy that all those who mattered in combating crime attended the workshop.

He said the workshop had provided the forum for the stakeholders to acknowledge the challenges facing the various agencies.

He gave the assurance that the recommendations reached would be embodied in proposals for the amendment of PNDCL 236 to ensure effective combating of the drug menace.

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