Draconian drug law
Stabroek News
April 18, 2002

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Dear Editor,

In previous editions of Stabroek News we have read of offenders receiving three years' jail for possession of minuscule quantities of cannabis (a mandatory sentence, it seems) and now we read of a man receiving just one year's jail from the Chief Magistrate for robbery with violence.

We have read recently of the scandal of unconvicted persons herded by certain magistrates into jail, where they remain in uncomfortable conditions for years on remand awaiting trial.

We are becoming accustomed also to reading regularly of brutal slayings by the police and other gun-toting government agents, and equally resigned never to read of anyone being charged with, let alone convicted of, any of these obscenities.

What future is there for Guyana indeed, where justice itself is now perverted, delayed and denied?

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Richardson

Georgina Latchman

Editor's note

The Psychotropic Substances and Narcotic Drug (Control) Act which originally made a jail sentence mandatory for all drug offences (a minimum of three years) and did not allow bail to be granted was amended by Act No. 3 of 1999 to provide that if the accused has no more than five grams of marijuana and it was for his or her personal use they can be fined instead of a custodial sentence or ordered to do community service and they can be granted bail if they plead not guilty. Some sentences for community services have been imposed by magistrates.