Mauritius is a volcanic island of an area of 1800 square kms, situated in the Indian Ocean to the South East of the African Continent, with an approximate population of 1.2 million. It has gone through different periods of colonization, mainly by the Europeans till 1968, when it became independent and finally, a Republic in 1992. During the colonial settlement, slaves were brought in from the African continent and indentured labour from Asia that is why, till date, the country has a cosmopolitan population, originating from Europe, Africa and Asia. The different ethnic groups brought along their ways of living and cultures - one among these was the consumption of cannabis (locally known as gandia) and opium. Cannabis was illicitly cultivated whereas opium was smuggled and consumption was confined to certain specific community. The drug problem however, was not alarming because the standard of living was low, the population was small in number and communication was difficult.
The economy was mainly based on sugarcane production and some other agricultural products. The passage of time witnessed an increase in population and improvement of the economy, whilst communication with the outer world likewise expanded, be it by air or by sea. Internally, the road network was improved and extended to cover the whole island. At this time, the only drugs i.e cannabis and opium touched a very limited sections of the population and the ill-effects were largely unknown.
In the 80’s an aggressive and determined economic policy emphasizing on Free Market, opening of Freeport and Financial Services led the country to a more prosperous situation. Concurrently, the Tourist Industry went through several changes by the construction of high class hotels, which brought in substantial increase of visitors i.e. nearly half of the then local population. Consequently, the standard of living got better, permitting the population to spend lavishly.
These conditions set the scene for the entry of the drug traffickers to spread their criminal tentacles and exploit the situation to their benefits and hence, the introduction of "Brown Sugar", a derivative of opium together with all its devastating effects, be it on the individuals, on the family, on the society or the economy. In no time, the traffickers were amassing huge profits from the illicit trade, taking advantage of loopholes in the law and the fact that everybody was taken offguard. On the other hand, lots of youngsters got hooked and became addicted to this highly physical dependence drug.
With the situation becoming so alarming and disturbing that the public in general, religious and social organisation, helped by the Media, pulled the alarm bell, compelling the Government to take immediate actions to counter the scourge. A Commission of Enquiry was set up to look into the ramifications of the illicit drugs trade and to make the necessary recommendations.
In the wake of this enquiry the existing relevant law was repealed and replaced by the D.D.A 32/86. The Anti-Drug and Smuggling Unit was restructured in terms of administration. man power and equipments. In 1995, a further restructuring was undertaken due to the prevailing trend.
DANGEROUS DRUGS ACT 41/2000
Under section 21 (1) POSSESION OF DRUGS.
No person shall possess any dangerous drug unless he is authorised to do so under this Act. Shall commit an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding 100,000 rupees and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years.
Under section 30. DRUG DEALING
(1) Any person who unlawfully
(a) organises, manages, or finances any offences specified in the section,
(b) import, exports, causes to be imported or exported, aids, abets, counsels or procures the importation or exportation of nay dangerous drug;
(c) produces, manufactures, extracts, prepares or transforms any dangerous drug;
(d) offers, offers for sale, distributes, sells, brokers, delivers or transports on any term whatsoever, dispatches, or dispatches in transit any dangerous drug;
(e) cultivates opium poppy, coca bush or cannabis plant;
(f) possesses, purchases or offers to purchase any dangerous drug for the purpose of any activity in this section.
Shall commit an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable-
I. Where the offence is in respect of dangerous drug specified in Part I of Scheduled I, to a fine not exceeding one million rupees and to penal servitude for a term not exceeding 20 years.
II. Where the offence is in respect of a dangerous drug specified in Part II of Schedule I, to a fine not exceeding one million rupees together with penal servitude for a term which shall not de less than 5 years and not more than 20 years.
Under section 34. UNLAWFUL USE OF DRUGS
(1) Any person who unlawfully
((1) Any person who unlawfully offers, offers to buy, sells or distributes any dangerous drug to a person for his personal consumption shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding 100,000 rupees and to imprisonment for term not exceeding 10 years.a) smokes, inhales, sniffs, consumes or administers to himself in any way whatsoever any dangerous drug ;
(b) purchases, transport or possess any dangerous drug for his personal consumption;
(c) has in his possession any pipe, syringe, utensil, apparatus or other article for use in connection with smoking, inhaling, sniffing, consuming or the administration of any dangerous drug,shall commit an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding 10,000 rupees and, subject to subsection (2), in the case of a second or subsequent cinviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.
Under section 35. OFFERING OR SELLING FOR PERSONAL CONSUMPTION.
Under section 39. MONEY LAUDERING.
Shall on conviction be liable to fine not exceeding one million rupees and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years
Under section 40. DRIVING WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF A DANGEROUS DRUG.
(1) Any person who drives a motor-powered land vehicles, steers a motor-powered marine craft or flies a motor-powered aircraft while under the influence of a dangerous drug which he has used in an unlawful manner, shall commit an offence and shall on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding 10,000 rupees or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years.
(2) Where an offence under subsection (1) results in death of or serious injury to any other person, the person convicted thereof shall be liable to double the maximum penalties specified in subsection (1).
Under section 41. AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES.
(1) where a person is convicted of an offence under sections 30, 35, 40, shall if aggravating circumstances exist, be liable to double the maximum penalties specified in respect of that offence.
(2) Any person is convicted of an offence under sections 30 shall be sentenced to penal servitude for 45 years where it is averred and proved that, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, the person was a drug trafficker.
(3) A person shall be deemed to be a drug trafficker where the street value of the drugs, the subject-matter of offence, exceeds one million rupees or such value as may be prescribed.
FREEZING AND FORFEITTURE OF ASSETS.
The assets of any person found guilty of an offence under sections 30 & 39, shall be freezed and forfeited in virtue of section 45.
1. GANDIA (CANNABIS)
Gandia - "Masse" in the local jargon is one of the product (Leaves) of the Cannabis Sativa L, commonly known as the hemp plant – other products are hashish and hashish oil. In Mauritius, Gandia is the sole illicit drugs which is illegally cultivated in the mountains, forests and canefields. Only the leaves are consumed when dry by smoking, the quantity of plants cultivated, being too small, for the production of Hashish and Hashish Oil locally. Consumers of gandia come from all walks of life and the problem exists islandwide.
Heroin is a derivative of opium, itself a product (resin) of the papaver Somniferum – commonly known as the opium poppy. The type of heroin available on the local market is known as "Brown Sugar" and is smuggled mainly by human courrier, concealed in double linings of suitcases, handicrafts products and other goods fit for this purpose. Having a high degree of dependence, consumers become addict in short time. Heroin is sniffed, administered , smoked and it is more in demand in urban areas.
3. PSYCHOTROPIC SUBSTANCE
Psychotropic Substances are in fact, legal pharmaceutical products, which are acquired illegally and consumed abusely, as substitute when Heroin and Gandia are scarce.
This pharmaceutical product having Buprenorphine as a basic ingredients is used as substitute for the treatment of opium addicts. It has been illegally introduced in the country by the end of 1999 and its misuse by drug addicts, has resulted in several fatalities. Luckily, an aggressive campaign through repression and sensitization has put a stop to its use. It has further been classified as a dangerous drugs.
The consumption of alcoholic drinks is also a matter of concern as its abuse is presently noted at different levels of the society and is a cause of havoc among families and neighbours. The Government, assisted by NGOs are active on the fields to bring awareness as to the devastating effects of this phenomenon and bring it under control.