The dark years

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Prohibited since independence, cannabis or takrouri remained in the collective memory as a friendly and not harmful habit . Nowadays , it is said that the soft drug is no longer a mundane phenomenon . It affects all social strata and especially young people, who are in the crosshairs of the police.

According to official figures , 90% of young people between 10 and 18 had access to cannabis in the street or at home. The youngest of them are attracted by the glue . Yet the center of Jebel el Oust, 40 km from Tunis, that was intended for detoxification, has been closed since 2011. The reasons for its closure are unknown but it is obvious to everyone that the people in power do nothing to save the victims of addiction.

Today, nothing has really changed from the way things were done back when Ben Ali was still in power, the Tunisian criminal legislation continues to provide law enforcement to control the population and particularly any dissenting voice. Every day, people are arrested because of Act No. 52 of 18 May 1992 which penalizes the use of cannabis ( Zatla ) . This Act provides that offenses of possession, use and trade of addictive substances are given specific treatment which derogates from the accepted rules of all criminal offenses. The evaluation of the preventive aspect of this legal instrument , considered too rigid , does not seem conclusive , a posteriori, it lacks incentive for withdrawal and rehabilitation .

The Act provides special provisions and specific penalties for poisonous substances known . Products considered as drugs were listed by The Act 92-52 of 18 May 1992 , this same act contains the punishments imposed upon consumers and owners for personal use ( Art. 4) . It imposes sanctions for only being around the places where drugs are used (Article 8 ) and confirms the prohibition of extenuating circumstances in favor of the “offenders” on narcotics (Article 12 ) .

Art.4 : Will be punished by imprisonment of one to five years and a fine to three thousand dinars , any consumer or owner for personal use of plants or narcotic substances , except as permitted by the law. The attempt is punishable. Art.8 : Will be punished by imprisonment of six months to three years and a fine to five thousand dinars , anyone who knowingly attends a place designated and arranged for the use of drugs and in which they are used . Art . 12: Article 53 of the Penal Code does not apply to offenses under this Act.

When police arrests a person , a urine test is done almost automatically . If it reveals traces of tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC) , the active substance of cannabis in the body of the suspect (which takes a few weeks to disappear ) , they are prosecuted automatically. However, this test does not distinguish between weaning and rehabilitation.

The former regime of Ben Ali has used these laws to control the rebellious youth . To continue to apply these ridiculous laws, especially after the revolution, proves that the police and law enforcement system in general are still the same.

On a private radio station, the prison governor, who has been dismissed since he suggested decriminalization of consumers who often are young, explained that the majority of victims , once in prison, are introduced to crime and then have difficulties in social and professional rehabilitation. ”

It seems justified, indeed , that the government is using these laws against the young people as a prevention. When it comes to young people, the urine test has become a routine , even if they are indicted for other reasons , ” Anas Ben Hriz , hospital doctor .

We do not seek to encourage the use of drugs nor to find excuses to justify it. However, we believe it would be much more appropriate to establish a controlled input of these substances across our border networks. Prevention policies at all levels would be fairer than making consumers, who are only victims in the end, pay for it.

By this disproportionate logic of punishment , supposedly making people get away from drug use , we only destroy lives instead of trying to fight the root of the problem . We can , through a reform of the law, treat the roots of the problem.

The police and judicial harassment of Tunisians through Bill 52 must end. We accuse the Tunisian political class and ask that this injustice immediately ends beginning with the reform of Law No. 52, and by aborting imprisonment of consumers. Then through prevention and integration of victims of the law into society.

 

Traduit par Balkiss Chograni

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