Secretary Dr. Mange Matui said the report is expected to be presented to the government this month at the earliest for tabling in Parliament.
“This report is timely and the Government should be commended for stepping in the right direction to refer this review to CLRC to assess all the laws relating to drugs and alcohol with a view to providing reform proposals that can address the ever-increasing concerns around their abuse,” he said.
Dr Matui stated that the report proposed 21 legal, policy and administrative recommendations aimed at assisting the government and relevant institutions to respectively develop a policy and amend current laws to be compatible with current circumstances.
The report and recommendations come handy at a crucial time when PNG is faced with outdated laws that fail to capture changing trends in relation to alcohol and drug related issues, including the recent drug bust in the Papa-Lealea area in Central Province,
“There are laws and regulations that exist to regulate the production, distribution and consumption of drugs and alcohol but most of these laws are colonial laws dating back to the 1960s and 1970s, and they cannot effectively regulate drugs and alcohol in this day and age,” Dr. Matui said.
He outlined the report and the recommendations also identify and emphasise other necessary gaps that would complement the legal framework, such as the need to develop a National Policy on Drugs and Alcohol as well as looking at definitional issues to accommodate latest developments and trends, licensing requirements, powers and functions of licensing authorities as well as enforcement agencies, and penalties.
Dr. Matui said the recommendations are evidence-based and are a result of the analysis of information gathered through the Commission’s own independent research, stakeholder and public consultations and written submissions from interested participants and groups as well as research on the existing laws and practices of other jurisdictions and international best practice.
The Government directed CLRC to undertake the review in 2015 following widespread media reports and concerns raised by citizens on drug and alcohol abuse, and a related discussion paper by the Commission requesting the directive from the Minister for Justice and Attorney General.
(File picture of a liquor inspection exercise early this year)