Government Reviewing Drug Abuse Criminal Penalties With Treatment, Rehab Approach Instead: Azalina

Law Minister Azalina says BHEUU is reviewing laws related to drug abuse penalties by seeing how medical treatment/ rehab in other countries can be implemented in Malaysia. “The unity government is committed to protecting the interests of high-risk groups.”

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 – The Legal Affairs Division in the Prime Minister’s Department (BHEUU), together with related agencies, will review legislations related to criminal punishments for drug abuse by taking a health approach instead, Azalina Othman Said said today.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (law and institutional reform) stressed the need to review Malaysia’s approach to drug abuse or addiction to be in line with international developments. 

Hence, BHEUU’s review of drug abuse laws will look at how medical treatment or rehabilitation methods used in other countries for drug dependency can be implemented in Malaysia.

“The unity government is committed to protecting the interests of high-risk groups in this issue, such as vulnerable groups, the poor, and easily influenced youths,” Azalina said in a statement.

Azalina issued her statement after chairing a session earlier today on a review of legislations related to criminal penalties for drug abuse with representatives from the Home Ministry; the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry; the Ministry of Health; as well as academics and representatives from civil society groups to get early feedback on the need for the review.

“Even though the Home Ministry, the National Anti-Drug Agency, the Royal Malaysia Police, the Immigration Department, the Customs Department, the Ministry of Health, Persatuan Mencegah Dadah Malaysia (Pemadam), and non-governmental organisations have done their best in managing this issue, this problem still can’t be resolved effectively, and has become the cause of other systemic issues like prison congestion and a burdened criminal justice system,” said the minister.

She added that her deputy, Ramkarpal Singh, would conduct further stakeholder engagements, including focus group discussions, on the legislation review.

“The unity government sees the issue of drug abuse as not only a criminal issue, but a health issue that impacts society in terms of socioeconomic and health perspectives.”

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