Parliament accepts drug bill

Parliament yesterday accepted a drug bill that will lead to greater sophistication in the country’s treatment of drug crimes.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair explained the bill would dramatically affect many drug cases, distinguishing between ‘soft drugs’ and ‘hard drugs’. and detailing punishments for dealers and users.

“[It proposes] a special court for drug cases,” he said, noting that the government discussed the bill with the Islamic Ministry before presenting to the parliament.

Maldivian Democratic Party MDP MP Ahmed Easa said the bill was “remarkable” and that the government deserved to be praised.

”The bill was designed based on the experience the country has had during the past years, after discussion with concerned departments and NGOs,” Easa said.

One of the most significant points in the bill, Easa said, was the protection for witnesses to drug cases.

Easa also said that while the bill included rehabilitation for drug abusers, “the punishment for dealers is very strict.”

”There would be a Rf50000 (US$3850) to Rf5000000 (US$385,000) fine and a prison sentence of 5-15 years, as well as confiscation of the offender’s properties by the government.”

He said according to the bill a drug court would be built where all the drug cases would be heard, “with a special team appointed to identify drugs and their level.”

He said if the bill was approved, “all the doors for drugs would be closed.”

DRP MP Waheed said there were amendments to be made to the drug bill, but said would not like to go into details at this time.