Mr Lukuvi said here on Sunday the existing laws were too weak to fight the illegal activities, saying the government was finalizing a bill that would stipulate harsher penalties against the culprits. He said that that the bill to be tabled later this year would sternly seek a life sentence against drug criminals as the only measure to curb the problem which is currently at escalating level.
Currently, drug offences attract fine on short term jail sentences, which is not adequate to deter would be abusers and traffickers. He said that it was difficult to curb the problem with the current existing laws since criminals were financially strong and could pay any fine imposed by courts hence the necessity to review the laws.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s world anti-drugs day which at the national level will be marked in Kinondoni municipality-- Tandale Primary School grounds, Mr Lukuvi said that the smuggling of drugs in the country had reached alarming level. Giving statistics on the trend, the Minister said that in six years, between 2007 and 2012, the Police seized 234.061 Kilogrammes (KG) of heroin, 16.845 KG of cocaine and 9929.63 KG of bhang.
Mr Lukuvi said that during the six years, 24,983 were prosecuted, adding that many Tanzanians were being held in foreign jails for drug trafficking. For example, he said in the period of between 2005 and 2010 total of 211 Tanzanians were arrested overseas and some of them were subjected to death penalty.
Statistics from Mirembe referral hospital in Dodoma for people with mental illness resulting from drug abuse showed that the number of youths with the problem shot up from 290 in 2010 to 569 in 2005, about 96.2 per cent increase. Over 25,000 youths are drug victims and the reasons which forced them to engage in drug abuse, according to the Minister, include unemployment, lack of civic education and mob psychology.
Linking drug abuse to HIV/AIDS prevalence, Mr Lukuvi said that research had shown that 40 per cent of drug users are HIV positive compared to non users who are just are 5.8 per cent.