The new law will cover all sorts of narcotic substances, says the Cabinet secretary
The Cabinet has approved in principal the draft of Narcotics Control Act 2018, introducing provisions of death sentence as maximum punishment for anyone involved in producing, smuggling, distributing or using over 5 grams of banned drug yaba or amphetamines.
In the new law, life in jail has been proposed as the minimum punishment for the similar offence.
It also proposes 15 years in jail as maximum punishment and five years as minimum for carrying or trafficking or smuggling less than 5 grams of yaba, reports BSS.
Besides, provision of fine has been kept for the both offences.
The draft act received the green light at the weekly Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office in Dhaka on Monday.
The new law also proposes to introduce death sentence as maximum punishment and life imprisonment as minimum for anyone involved in producing, smuggling, distributing or using 25 grams or more of “Category A” drugs, which include heroin or cocaine.
Briefing reporters at the Secretariat after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Md Shafiul Alam said: “The draft also incorporates a provision of maximum 25 years and minimum two years in prison for carrying less than 25 grams of ‘Category A’ drugs that includes heroin and cocaine.”
He said yaba or amphetamine substances group was included into this category in the proposed law as it was not in the existing Narcotics Control Act 1990.
The stern punishments were proposed in the new law as yaba has spread across Bangladesh in a massive scale in recent times, he added.
The secretary said: “The new draft of the 28-year-old law has been adjusted in line with the other international anti-narcotics laws.”
He said that yaba, shisha bars and dope testing were new additions to the law, and once passed, it would also cover all types of narcotic substances in the world as they had been included in different categories in the bill.
According to the bill, the maximum punishment for any individual or organization in case of financing or patronizing drug dealing will be the death penalty, Shafiul said.
“If any individual or organization finances, instigates or patronizes such crimes, it will also face the similar punishment as per the law.”
He said any drink containing 0.5% or more alcohol will be considered as beer. Licence will be needed to sell such drinks. If any condition of the licence is violated, the offender will face a Tk1 lakh fine.
Officials at the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) and other law enforcement agencies earlier said that there were some loopholes in the existing law, and the drug dealers were using them to easily secure bail soon after their arrests and getting away.
The government latest move follows a number of measures, including formulation of this new law with harsher punitive measures, to combat narcotics abuse that has turned into an epidemic across the country.
There is no respite for the law enforcement agencies as they are detaining drug peddlers and seizing large caches of yaba pills on a daily basis across the country.
In the last two weeks alone, more than 200,000 yaba pills worth crores of taka were seized in different districts.
In May this year, the government had also launched a nationwide anti-narcotics drive that has seen arrests of thousands of suspected drug barons and dealers and deaths of hundreds in alleged gunfights during raids.
The Cabinet on Monday also gave final approval to the draft of Bangladesh Labour (amendment) Act 2018 and cleared the draft of Bangladesh Technical Education Board Act 2018.