Tanzania: Zanzibar House Passes Landmark New Drug Law, Paves Way for ‘Victory’

The day before NOL of December 24, 2021 will be remembered as the Zanzibar House of Representatives passed a bill establishing the “Zanzibar Drug Control and Enforcement Authority (ZDCEA)”.

Despite heated debate over some sections of the law, the passage of the bill in the House created great excitement among lawmakers and others outside the home who have followed the drug problems in the islands, also used as traffic zones. . The law awaiting affirmation by the president of the islands aims to “strengthen the capacity of the authority” to deal with the problems of illicit drugs and narcotics in the tourist islands of Zanzibar.

Many lawmakers commend the government for this significant improvement in the law in the history of drug campaigns in the country. The new law also gives birth to the new ZDCEA which includes the President of Zanzibar as chairman of the National Drug Control and Enforcement Council (NDCEC), leading a team of ministers that is expected to deliver good results.

According to the law, the first vice-president, the second vice-president, the attorney general of Zanzibar; Minister of State in the Office of the First Vice-President; and the Minister of State – Office of the Second Vice President are members of the Council. The other members of the board are the minister responsible for drug control; Minister responsible for legal affairs; Minister in charge of regional administration; Minister in charge of health and social protection; Minister in charge of youth; Minister in charge of finance; and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The importance of the law includes the institution to be established must be able to investigate, arrest, investigate and prosecute in court; there will be effective management of drug control and control, and collect samples themselves and prevent those samples from returning to the community after the primary case is completed.

Other benefits are a significant reduction in drug trafficking, which will lead to a reduction in the side effects of the drug; strengthening the workforce, especially the youth, and ultimately boosting the country’s economy; and monitoring the use of prescription drugs that can be used as drugs.

The functions of authority, among others, are to educate the public about the effects of drugs; facilitate civic institutions, including external institutions that provide education on the effects of drugs; and develop various guidelines on drugs and their effects on society, including the establishment of sober homes and education on the effects of drugs.

Before the House approved the law, the Minister of State in the Office of the First Vice President, Dr Saada Mkuya Salum, mentioned other functions such as encouraging communities to participate in the control of drug consumption and trafficking. drug; and to encourage and ensure cooperation with the international community in drug control matters. She said the sentences range from one year, seven years, thirty years to life imprisonment and fines between $ 2 million and $ 10 million, depending on the extent of the offense, which include culture, property, distribution, trafficking and processing or manufacturing.

“Smoke… or if found in a house, room or place illegally used for smoking, injecting, inhaling, snorting drugs; or without lawful and reasonable excuse, commits an offense and, on conviction, is liable to a fine of not less than 5m / – or imprisonment for one year or both, ”states the law . Despite the heated debate, House members finally approved the law, with most of them saying that illicit drugs are still a big problem in Zanzibar and that the laws have a weakness in making it possible to successfully eliminate drugs in Zanzibar. Zanzibar.

One of the stated goals of Zanzibar’s new drug law is to treat drug addicts in sober homes, but several backbench MPs, including Prof. Omar Hamad Fakih (Pandani), have explained why “treat those involved in the illegal practice of using drugs? ‘

“Not all young people use drugs at will, because some do and we cannot leave them without help, because they can always return to normal life and contribute to the building of the nation”, said Dr Salum, adding that the new law gives hope to authority as it strengthens its “teeth” and to people who have been neglected by society, and have been continually punished and demonized instead of much needed support.

The Minister insisted that drug use, as well as the supply, production and trafficking, remains an offense under the new law, as before, including the widely used Bangi (Cannabis), where the difference lies in better laws for the authorities to enforce and improve. fines and imprisonment. The Minister informed the House that Zanzibar is not alone in this process, as many countries have made improvements to their laws,

“But in Zanzibar we have gone further with great hope of success in winning the war on drugs.” “Drugs cost lives, ruin families and the economy,” Zubeir Ali Maulid, Speaker of the Zanzibar House of Representatives, said after the bill is passed, urging Zanzibaris to be enthusiastic and optimistic about this new drug law.

“By law, our president is one of the leaders of the campaign against narcotics. We look forward to the implementation immediately after the president’s approval,” the speaker said, adding that this demonstrated political will.

However, Ms. Panya Ali Abdalla (CCM Special Seats) protested against the clause that makes the President of Zanzibar the Chairman of the Zanzibar National Drug Control and Enforcement Council, arguing that the presidency is the most senior position that should not be in no way be “attached to other functions such as being the chairman of the anti-drug task.”

Dr Saada Mkuya Salum was joined by the defendants, the Minister of Trade and Industrial Development, Mr. Omar Said Shaaban, and the Attorney General, Dr Mwinyi Talib Haji, in defending the role of the President of Zanzibar on the council. anti-drug. “The war on drugs is a war on people, creating obstacles to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, violating human rights, undermining public health, so we must rejoice that the president leads us in this. combat, and his role as president will not be affected, ”they said.

Zanzibar is already building a modern drug addiction center, and the new law is also intended to help and support young people who quit drugs. A total of 3,161 young people who successfully stayed in sober homes gave up drug use. More than 9,000 young people joined the sober houses between 2009, when the sober houses were created in 2019.

During the period, sober homes lost contact with 271 young people, and 813 young people who had recovered from drug use turned to substitute drugs, while 4,786 young people started using drugs again. (relapsed case). Sober Homes (Sober Homes – SLH), also known as Sober Homes and Sober Living Environments, are facilities that provide safe housing and structured, supportive living conditions for people leaving drug addiction programs. .

President Hussein Ali Mwinyi has repeatedly called on the respective authorities to work tirelessly to ensure that the import, supply and use of illicit drugs is controlled and that almost everyone should be engaged in war. Current drug control measures include increased public awareness, revised laws and commitment that have enabled prompt processing / hearing of reported drug-related cases in a short period of time.

Increased collaboration with the police, the Zanzibar Anticorruption and Economic Crime Authority (ZAECA), better data collection on drug abuse cases and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) help control “import, the distribution and use of illicit drugs. It is estimated that there are around 200 million drug addicts in the world, while Zanzibar has around 12,000.

The effects of drugs include poverty, domestic conflict, armed robbery, death, accidents, STIs, mental health problems, unwanted pregnancies, and hepatitis B and C, among other health problems. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) encourages individuals, non-profit organizations, the private sector and member states to get involved in its anti-drugs social media campaign.

Cannabis (bangi) is the most widely consumed substance. Around 275 million people used drugs globally in the past year, while more than 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders, according to the World Drug Report 2021 released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“The theme for this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking is’ Share facts about drugs. Saving Lives “, stressing the importance of strengthening the evidence base and raising public awareness, so that the international community, governments, civil society, families and young people can make informed decisions and better target efforts to prevent and treat drug use; and tackle the world’s drug challenges. “

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