The report of the Commission of Inquiry on Drugs along with the formulation of a National Drug Control Master Plan, is much awaited by the Government to consolidate the fight against drug scourge in Mauritius.
This reply was given yesterday by the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, to a Private Notice Question with regard the proposed elaboration of a National Drug Control Master Plan in the National Assembly.
He further stated that the increasing number of drug seizures and the arrest of drug traffickers over the last 3 years bear testimony to Government's determination to put an end to the illegal and harmful activities of drug barons and drug traffickers.
Prime Minister Jugnauth pointed out that the Cabinet had agreed to the setting up of a Committee in September 2015 to look into the pertinent issue of drug scourge prevailing in the country. The Committee, he underlined, recommended a holistic and integrated approach to effectively address the drug problem and which could be achieved with the formulation of a National Drug Control Master Plan for Mauritius.
In this context, the Prime Minister emphasised that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime was approached with a view to securing technical expertise for the elaboration of the Master Plan. Following consultations with relevant stakeholders, the final draft of the Master Plan has been submitted for period 2018-2022, he added.
The Master Plan identifies the need for the following: a national body at the apex of Government with the authority to act as the national convener across all sectors involved; plugging of gaps in legislative framework; an intelligence sharing platform among the law enforcement agencies; strengthen structural and organisational operations of ADSU and Customs; accelerate actions against the emerging threat of New Psychoactive Substances (Synthetic Drugs); and focus on the rehabilitation and social reintegration of people who use drugs or those on treatment.
Moreover, the Plan rests on four strategic pillars, which are: Drug Supply Reduction aiming at combatting the entry, production and cultivation of illicit drugs within the Republic of Mauritius; Drug Reduction, through a Standardized National Drug Use Prevention Programme; Harm Reduction in line to enhancing the quality and accessibility of the Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) and the Needle Exchange Programme; and Coordination Mechanism, Legislation Implementation Framework, Monitoring and Evaluation and Strategic Information which provides for the establishment of a National Drug Secretariat (NDS) to monitor and evaluate all drug control related policies, programmes.
Concerning the Dangerous Drugs Act, he underscored that it makes provision for unlawful possession of dangerous drugs and it does not provide for an offence of possession of dangerous drugs for personal use. He added that it is not envisaged to abolish custodial sentences for possession of any dangerous drugs and it is at the discretion of the Court to decide upon the sentence to be imposed, he added.
Moreover, Prime Minister Jugnauth highlighted that regarding the Certificate of Character Act, several provisions are already applicable. He also announced that for period 01 January 2014 to 31 December 2017, some 2276 cases have been reported to Police whereby 2336 persons were arrested and provisionally charged for possession of cannabis under the Dangerous Drugs Act. Of these persons arrested, so far 1513 persons have been convicted after being formally charged.