Judges urge tougher sentencing for drug crimes
Two High Court judges in Namibia have strongly criticised magistrates and prosecutors in that country's lower courts for not taking drug abuse offences seriously enough. The two judges, one of them Judge President Petrus Damaseb, were reviewing the conviction and sentence of a drug dealer who had been selling cannabis to children at a primary school, writes Carmel Rickard in her A Matter of Justice column on the Legalbrief site. After the prosecution put to him the count of possession only, and not the second count of dealing, the prosecutor proposed that he be dealt with under a section that limited sentence to a fine. The judges said the purpose of their strongly-worded judgment in the case was to emphasise to prosecutors and magistrates 'the need to reflect on the approach currently adopted in the lower courts which, unfortunately, often operates against the interests of justice'. The judges, who said they confirmed conviction and sentence only reluctantly, urged that a clear message should now emerge from the court that crimes of this nature would no longer be tolerated and that sentences would from now on be 'appropriately severe'. The judges said there was a 'dire need' for change in the way the courts dealt with such matters so that proper weight was given to the seriousness of the offence, and to root out the 'evil of drugs' from society.