By Staff writer
Users who come forward seeking treatment will not be prosecuted
Dubai Police has reiterated that drug users will not be prosecuted if they voluntarily come forward to see treatment for their addiction
The message was issued on Sunday through Dubai Police’s official social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.
The amnesty refers to Article 43 of the Narcotics Act and addicts seeing help are instructed to contact the Anti-Narcotics Department.
Drug use, excluding tobacco and alcohol, rose 526 percent in the UAE between 1990 and 2010, according to the results of the Global Health Burden of Disease Study, published in The National newspaper in January this year.
Help is available through the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) in Abu Dhabi, which has grown from 18-bed clinic a few years ago to a network of inpatient, outpatient and social reintegration programmes operating throughout the country.
While it is not clear if the amnesty includes just local Emiratis or extends to expatriate residents, the initiative could also have a dramatic impact on prison numbers as almost 90 percent of inmates in UAE jails were convicted of drug-related crimes, according to a survey carried out in September 213 by UK organisation Detained in Dubai.
The survey, which was based on interviews with 144 inmates, with the majority of those interviewed from Iran, India, Pakistan, The Philippines, Nigeria and other Middle Eastern and African nations, with a minority from Europe, the US, South Africa, Bulgaria, Russia and the Ukraine.
According to the survey, of the 88.19 percent convicted for drugs offences, 37 percent involved 25 grams of drugs or more. A further 18.6 percent involved drugs of 10.001-25 grams and 17.5 percent involved 0.001-1 grams.
Of those interviewed, the survey found that 80 percent had been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison, 18 percent to between five and 10 years and the remaining five percent were completing sentences of under five years.