Updated at 11:44,21-11-2017

Lukashenka signs anti-drug edict

Euroradio

Criminal offences associated with illegal drug trafficking can now be punishable by 25 years in prison.

Criminal responsibility for illegal drug trade and administrative sanctions for drug consumption have been toughened in Belarus in line with Decree No. 6 “Concerning prompt measures to counteract illegal drug trade” which was signed by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on 28 December, the state news agency BelTA learned from the press service of the Belarusian head of state.

The decree aims to protect the life and health of Belarusian citizens, create a safe environment for children and youth, and prevent drug abuse which poses a threat to the demographic security and health of the nation. A complex of urgent measures is introduced to step up the fight against illegal drug trade. In accordance with the official document, government bodies, educational and healthcare institutions, law enforcement agencies, and other organizations will step up efforts to combat drug abuse.

The government will approve a comprehensive action plan to prevent illegal drug trade and discourage drug abuse. The Presidium of the Council of Ministers will hold special sessions at least once a year to review the efficiency of efforts in this area and submit the report to the Belarusian President.

The Interior Ministry will be given additional authorities to coordinate the efforts of government bodies in counteracting illegal drug trade.

The document toughens criminal responsibility for illegal drug trade. The maximum prison term for drug trade with aggravating circumstances (for example, offences committed by a group of persons, sale of the most dangerous drugs, drug trade on the territory of educational institutions) will be increased from 13 years to 15 years. The maximum prison term for the sale of drugs to underage people will be increased from 8 years to 15 years. The maximum prison term for the drug trade involving an organized criminal group will be increased from 15 years to 20 years. The maximum prison term for the manufacture or processing of narcotic substances at clandestine labs will be increased from 8 years to 20 years.

The decree will also introduce criminal responsibility for the sale of drugs which resulted in the death of a drug addict (such criminals will serve from 12 years to 25 years in prison). The term of imprisonment for illegal transportation of drugs across the state border of Belarus may reach 12 years. The repeated consumption of drugs within a year after administrative sanctions for such offences were imposed as well as drug abuse in public places or at work will be punishable by up to two years of the limitation of freedom.

The age of criminal responsibility for drug trade will be lowered from 16 years to 14 years.

Administrative sanctions for drug abuse will be toughened as well. In line with the document, the fine for taking drugs in public places will make up from 5 basic amounts to 10 basic amounts. If self-employed businessmen or legal entities fail to prevent to consumption or sale of drugs at entertainment facilities and night clubs, they will have to pay the fine that will make up from 20 basic amounts to 50 basic amounts.

Maximum fines for taking drugs at work will be increased from 10 basic amounts to 12 basic amounts; the fines for the consumption of drugs in public places without a doctor's prescription will be raised from 8 basic amounts to 15 basic amounts.

The official document specifies measures to promptly ban the sale of new psychedelic substances (smoking blends, spices) in Belarus. In accordance with the decree, a wider range of chemical substances can be included in the list of drug analogues. These measures will help prevent the illegal sale of such substances in Belarus.

The decree specifies measures to restrict the access to the websites that are used to promote illegal drug trade. The corresponding decisions will be made by the Information Ministry on the basis of reports from the Interior Ministry.

In order to raise the efficiency of measures to prevent illegal drug trade, including in the Internet, the decree will oblige owners of Internet resources to analyze information that is placed on their Internet resources and to inform law enforcement bodies about the attempts to distribute such information.