Pubdate: Sun, 09 May 2004
Source: Times Of Malta (Malta)
Copyright: 2004 Allied Newspapers Limited


Dr Gavin Gulia, main Opposition spokesman on home affairs, has written to 
Parliamentary Secretary Helen D'Amato, who chairs Parliament's Standing 
Committee on Social Affairs, to discuss changes in the law which would make 
a clearer distinction between the trafficker and the victim with regard to 
drug offences and to the penalties to be applied.

In the letter, which was released by the Malta Labour Party yesterday, Dr 
Gulia said he believed that drug abuse was one of the country's main 
problems. Various statements made from time to time by those involved in 
drug victims' rehabilitation, who considered the situation as quite 
alarming, bore this out.

"I believe that society has learned to make the right distinction between 
drug traffickers and their victims. They surely cannot be put on the same 
scale even if they both commit offences of a certain gravity and should be 
responsible for their actions and punished accordingly."

Dr Gulia said he feels that society also realised that while drug 
traffickers and importers should pay most dearly for their actions, on the 
other hand victims of drug abuse should be given every opportunity to 
rehabilitate themselves and reintegrate themselves in society.

"To reach this objective, our drug laws should reflect this spirit and this 
reality in such a way that, legally, the distinction between trafficker and 
victim should be clear and fair not only as regards the offence but also as 
far as the penalty is concerned. Even more importantly, certain situations 
for which the trafficker is responsible should not be attributed also to 
the victim. This does not mean that there should be any let-up in the fight 
against drug barons; on the contrary, this should be stepped up."

In his letter to Mrs D'Amato, Dr Gulia pointed out that the Dangerous Drugs 
Ordinance (Cap. 101) has been in force for several years. This meant that 
the legislator can learn more from the experience gained by experts in this 
field and the security forces from the enforcement of this law over the 
years. "Parliament should always be kept abreast of today's realities and 
should consider - in a non-partisan way - whether the existing laws are 
serving their ultimate purpose. Above all, the laws should be just," Dr 
Gulia said.

"I believe that the best way to examine closely the Dangerous Drugs 
Ordinance is by holding a frank discussion and an exchange of views between 
MPs and experts and members of the security forces. This could best be done 
within the Standing Committee on Social Afffairs, where a consensus could 
be reached on any necessary changes (to the laws) which would better 
reflect today's realities in this context."

Dr Gulia ended his letter by asking Mrs D'Amato to call a meeting of the 
Standing Committee as soon as possible to discuss the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.
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