104 drug users spared criminal charges, rehabilitated in Dubai in 2018

The police realise that these young people can be saved before they become addicted.

A total of 104 young drug users were provided rehabilitation in 2018 by the Dubai Police and no criminal charges were registered against them – most being first-time offenders.

Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, commander-in-chief of the Dubai Police, said that it takes into account the humanitarian and social aspect of certain cases and goes soft on young people who are caught taking drugs for the first time.

He said that police try to give them another chance so they can benefit from Article 43 of the Anti-Narcotics Act, which exempts drug users – who voluntarily approach police, or are reported by their family or friends – from legal accountability. He added that those found to be victims of circumstances are given relief from punishment and rehabilitated.

The police realise that these young people can be saved before they become addicted, he pointed out. They are referred to specialised drug treatment and rehabilitation centers, and their cases are followed up until they get de-addicted completely, Al Marri added.

He stressed that the solution is not to put this “category of users” in punitive institutions because these youths are patients and victims who need help. Rather than initiating criminal charges against them, the Dubai Police put them on a path to mend their ways and bring them into the mainstream, the police chief underlined. He said that some of them have succeeded in giving up drugs completely and become models of rehabilitation.

Al Marri stressed that there is a co-ordination between the general department of anti-narcotics and the penal and correctional institutions as well as the Community Development Authority (CDA) on how to prevent the juveniles and young people from falling into the quagmire of drug abuse and to protect them from relapsing into addiction.

E-councils to help vulnerable groups

Al Marri explained that the Dubai Police have established a number of e-councils to strengthen communication with the community, especially with groups most vulnerable to drugs. This includes formation of Student Councils, and the Council of Colleges. Each is headed by a student and has two police officers. To raise awareness about the dangers posed by drug menace and the law related to narcotics, specific classes will be held for the students in the future, he added.

Major General Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri, assistant commander-in-chief for criminal investigation, attributed the success of Dubai Police in containing drug abuse on the enhanced efforts of officials to reach out to the families of drug users.

He said that there has been an overwhelming response from the families, too. Two days back, the mother of a drug abuser contacted anti-narcotics department and reported that her son takes drugs, he revealed. “The mother was aware about the law that a person who voluntarily approaches the police would be dealt differently. She took the right decision to save her son without being legally held accountable by law and sought help through rehabilitation,” Al Mansouri said.

He pointed out that the police are also conducting periodic programmes in schools and clubs to send home the anti-drug message. They are also sensitising the media to combat drug abuse.

Brigadier General Eid Thani Hareb, director of general department of anti-narcotics, said that the programme to periodically check and follow-up while providing post-care has played a key role in the treatment and integration of the former addicts, who are serving jail terms in correctional institutions.

He said that the programme studied 188 cases of drug abuse during 2018 and 104 of them were rehabilitated. In 2017, it examined 217 cases and 79 young drug users were not criminally charged and sent to rehab centres.

Article 43 comes to drug abusers’ rescue

Brigadier General Eid Thani Hareb, director of general department of anti-narcotics, called on families to take advantage of Article 43 of the Anti-Narcotics Act, which offers an excellent chance and hope to young people who have fallen in the trap of drug use. He said that families should voluntarily report about their children – who are victims of drugs – so they can be administered treatment and put under surveillance until they abandon drugs. He said that the Dubai Police have arrested 2,834 suspects in various drug-related cases in 2018.