The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control (Amendment) Bill 2019 is facing survival challenges even before it gets to the second reading in Parliament.
It has now emerged that drug lords are waging a spirited campaign to stop it from seeing the light of day in its current form.
The bill proposed by Nyali MP Mohamed Ali, proposes punitive fines not just for drug traffickers but also law enforcement officers who aid and abet drug trafficking.
State officers found to be concealing the crime of trafficking or colluding with criminals face a minimum fine of Ksh 20 million as well as a jail term of no less than twenty years.
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Whereas ordinary Kenyans who knowingly help traffickers and those who do not report drug trafficking offences that they are aware of shall be fined no less than Ksh 1 million or face a jail term of no less than 5 years.
These and other punitive measures contained in the bill are what appear to have made drug traffickers jittery, sending them into a frenzy to try and stop it from becoming law.
The drug kingpins are said to be targeting lawmakers, including Ali, the bill’s sponsor, to defeat the bill at the parliamentary reading stages.
The bill, which passed the first reading, is headed for a review on Thursday 6th June 2019 by the parliamentary committee on Administration and National Security that is chaired by Hon. Paul Koinange.
The committee already summoned Ali for clarification on the proposed amendments on Tuesday 4th June 2019.
Other proposals in the bill include an amendment to section 59 of the Principal Act to allow the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to collaborate with foreign entities in seeking information or evidence for prosecution of alleged Kenyan drug traffickers otherwise also known as “mutual legal assistance”.
This ostensibly opens up avenues for extradition of Kenyans who commit drug trafficking offences to face trial in other countries and vice versa.
The bill sets out clear guidelines on the thorny issue of interception of communication, in a bid to allay fears of abuse or unlawful intrusion by the police, a move which is likely to ease use of interception and make it an efficient tool for capturing the hitherto mysterious drug barons.
Security experts have lauded the amendments saying that the bill is long overdue given the scourge of substance abuse in the country, particularly among youth in the coastal region.
Of particular interest are the hefty fines that the bill proposes for would be abettors of drug trafficking.
Such hefty fines are seen as necessary deterrence measures for law enforcement officers who are often accused of obstructing the war against the highly lucrative narcotics trade.
They, however, caution on the likelihood of the bill being tampered with or systematically delayed on trivialities of parliamentary process due to vested interests by Drug dealers and their networks within the political circles that are against it.
Security experts warn that if this bill does not see the light of day, it will be a big blow to Kenyans, particularly the youth, who have suffered heavily due to the drug trafficking menace.
The onus is now on parliamentarians to see whether they will relent to the wishes of the forces that seek to scatter the bill or have the resolve to see the bill go through.