Tough laws to curb drug use proposed in UAE

Tough laws to curb drug use proposed in UAE
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Abu Dhabi - Pardoning drug users had led to the increase of the drug use as most of the rehabilitated people return to drug use.


Amira Agarib

Published: Fri 29 Jun 2018, 9:06 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 Jun 2018, 11:22 PM

Authorities are reviewing the laws on drugs to make amendments according to new developments in the country, said a top official from the Ministry of Interior (MoI).
Brigadier Saeed bin Tuwair Al Suwaidi, head of the ministry's anti-narcotics department, said the ministry, in coordination with its partners, have reviewed the laws and has completed proposals on the amendment of drug laws.
"The proposals include a review of the punishment as reducing some penalties have led to encouraging the use of drugs. Security agencies are reviewing new drugs and the methods used by drug traffickers for promoting drugs," he said.
Lieutenant-General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, deputy chief of police and public security in Dubai and chairman of the anti-narcotics council, said pardoning drug users had led to the increase of the drug use as most of the rehabilitated people return to drug use.
He called on public prosecution not to list those who were pardoned once or twice on the pardoning lists submitted during various occasions. "Drug addicts should be given a chance or two, but if they continue to repeat the same crime they should be punished."
Brig Al Suwaidi said that more than 70 per cent of the addicts are below 30 years of age and attributed the behaviour to the influence of bad friends and desire to experiment with drugs. "Drug arrests and police records of those under 17 years are very limited. The trend of abuse and addiction begins after 18 and increases between the age of 20 and 30 years. Around 4.5 per cent of drug crimes are attributed to females and there is an increase in the index of female addiction in the past few years.
"There is an increase in the rate of drug use in 2017 with 3,021 recorded drug users. According to statistics, there is a rise in cases and drug seizures in 2017 compared to the previous year. Drug seizures have increased by a whopping 538.2 per cent," he said.
"The number of drug cases in 2016 was 3,774, while the number of arrested persons was 5,130, and the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances seized was 9,640 kg. In 2017, 4,444 cases were registered, 6,440 were arrested and seizures jumped to 61,525kg," said Brig Al Suwaidi.
He told Khaleej Times that the number of websites involved in drug promotion is growing. However, no website is located within the UAE.
"Recently, around 180 websites working outside the UAE were blocked for promoting drugs."

Rehabilitation programme for drug users

Treatment centres across the country have growing demand after it came into force in May 2002, said Dr Hamad Abdulla Al Ghafri, director-general of National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) in Abu Dhabi.
"We analyse the trends and service users each year, and are able to predict the incremental need. We plan our services accordingly, in terms of capacity, staffing and budgeting," he said.
"The new NRC building has nearly double the current capacity and it should be capable of handling the extra influx. Currently, the bed capacity is 200 and the number of people who registered has reached 3,400. The centre is receiving around 600 people every month at its outpatient clinic.
Majority of those who are treated at the centre are aged between 18-45.
The youngest person who received treatment was 15 years old," he said.
"We have a specialised team with 95 per cent Emiratis. In the first week of treatment, we take the history of the patient and get information about their social conditions. We then evaluate the person and their drug use before putting together the right treatment mechanism," said Al Ghafri.
"There are three types of programmes in addition to the treatment programme according to patients' age group and gender, which includes physical and psychological treatments. Addicts are treated between four and six weeks after which they are transferred to outpatient clinics and they are followed up for 16 weeks. The patients are also subjected to a follow-up programme."
Al Ghafri said the NRC is one of the leading centres in the region for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services. "We have partnerships with local, regional and international organisations that are specialised in treating and fighting addiction problems, according to best practices and international standards."

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