26th June has been observed as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking with the theme of “make health your 'new high' in life, not drugs” domestically and globally through a variety of programmes. The General Assembly of the United Nations declared the day to be observed as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse in 1987. There were a number of programs organized by various governmental as well as non-governmental organizations to save our future generation from the curse of drug addiction. This writing is to analyze the legal aspect how far the existing legislations are effective to control drug abuse in Bangladesh and what the initiatives are eminent to prevent that abuse.
The Narcotics Control Act of 1990 (Act no XX of 1990) is the prime law to control narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances in Bangladesh. There are many others laws as to the matter as the Acid Control Act 2002, The Narcotics control Rules 1999, The National Narcotics control Board Fund Rules 2001, Alcohol Control (License Fee) Rules 2002 and Acid Control Rules 2004. Drug use is considered as a treatable condition rather than a criminal offence under the Narcotics Control Act of 1990. Section 19 and 20 of the Act prohibits any kind of illegal operations regarding narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances as well as precursor chemicals. Additionally, a rule relating to the licensing of precursor chemicals were framed and adopted. It is a special law having predominance over other laws in respect of its ambit and jurisdiction on drugs and drug related issues. Interception of illicit drug trafficking through law enforcement, control of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances used in medical, industrial and scientific purposes coupled with treatment and rehabilitation of the drug addicts underlie the propriety of this law. But there has no adequate and enabling law to handle the sordid condition created by drug abuse and the related issues. Therefore the law has been proved to be inadequate to suit the needs of the time. Statistics show that use of drug is ever. For example, the total Seizure of Injecting Drug (Ampule) by all Agencies in Bangladesh in 2009 was 89469 which has increased to 157995 in 2012, ATS (Yaba) (Tab) was 129644 in 2009, has increased to 1951392. Therefore, The Narcotics Control Act of 1990 needs to be amended with two dimensions, firstly, preventive strategy and secondly, mutual co-operation.
The Narcotics Control Act of 1990 needs preventive strategy to control over a considerable area of both supply and demand reduction of drugs. The major supply reduction activities in Bangladesh may be prevented by Licensing, Monitoring and Inspection, Intelligence and Enforcement, Crop Eradication and Destruction of Drugs, Investigation, and Prosecution and Sanctions.
Licensing should be used in Bangladesh to control the production, processing, export, import, transport, distribution or sale, use or consumption of alcohol, spirit, alcohol-containing products, and certain narcotic drugs used for medical purposes. It should be more strict to control and limit drug-supply facilities. Monitoring and inspection of the supply system of drugs need to be more regular and transparent without any corruption. Intelligence and enforcement agency should be more concern directly engaged in the pipeline of drug supply through its intelligence and enforcement activities. There should have system of Crop eradication, crop substitution and destruction of drugs Because Bangladesh produces no narcotics drugs, it has no crop eradication or crop substitution programmes. However, it seizes and destroys the small amount of cannabis plants cultivated illegally in remote rural areas.
Prosecution and sanction need to be carried out prosecution of drug cases in courts. There should have a special court to deal with drug and drug related offences for speedy disposal. Demand reduction is another aspect of preventive strategy. The drug abuse prevention programmes will not succeed unless they consists both of supply and demand reduction programmes. Therefore, the government needs to conduct various demand reduction activities. A major role in demand reduction activities in Bangladesh may be played by the ministries of information, education, social-welfare, health, youth and sports, and local government. The drug control activities carried out through various methods of demand reduction in Bangladesh may be by- programmes for public awareness campaigns against drug abuse throughout the country, including organisation of rallies, seminars, and discussion meetings. The government may introduce drug education in regular school curricula. Control and restriction on advertising for drugs may be effective means to prevent wide spread of drug.
Bangladesh is located between the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent making it vulnerable to be a transit for trafficking of drugs. Drug traffickers find it comparatively easy to traffic their merchandise through the seacoast and waterways of the country. Bangladesh has a very large porous border with India, where Phensedyl is produced legally. Moreover, an injectable Indian drug known as tidigesic injection is being abused in Bangladesh. Through its large and porous border, it is very easy to smuggle these drugs into Bangladesh. Therefore, Bangladesh can not control and reduce drug abuse unless it gets mutual co-operation from neighboring countries. Moreover, Bangladesh may avail help from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which works on international drug control. Regional co-operation may be an additional blessing to solve the problem. Bangladesh has signed the SAARC Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances in 1990. The national agency should collaborate with other national and international agencies like International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Commission on Narcotics Drug (CND), International Police Organization (INTERPOL) and SAARC Drug Offence Monitoring Desk (SDOMD). Bangladesh has also signed Bilateral Agreement/MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Myanmar, Iran and India for Preventing Illicit Trafficking in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and Related Matters. It may initiate mutual plan and policy to control illegal supply of drug from one to another.
If the stakeholders do not feel headache about the danger of ever increasing drug abuse in Bangladesh, it has to compensate with thousands offences complexly around the abuse
The writers are Assistant Professor and student of law respectively at Uttara University, Dhaka.