The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, has guided the Attorney General, Hon. Kiryowa Kiwanuka, to re-introduce the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Bill, 2016, following its annulment by the Constitutional Court on 05 May 2023 due to lack of quorum.
“Since the bill is ready, it is a matter of the Attorney General to re-table it, and I am giving him Thursday to bring back the bill or the private member be allowed to re-introduce the bill,” said Among.
Among said that failure of the Attorney General to table the bill by Thursday, 17 May 2023, will pave the way for Bugiri Municipality MP, Asuman Basalirwa, to introduce the same.
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The Speaker’s directive during plenary on Tuesday, 16 May 2023 followed Kiryowa Kiwanuka’s plea to be given at least 14 days to re-introduce the bill, which legislators rejected.
MPs said that there was no proof that government would move fast on a bill that has been challenged in court, citing some that were annulled more than 10 years ago with no action on the side of government.
“There are many pronouncements that have been made by the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court on legislations but we keep quiet. If the Attorney General keeps quiet, we have no choice but to go ahead and introduce private members’ bills,” said Hon. Basalirwa.
Tororo District Woman MP, Sarah Opendi, said that issues relating to narcotic drugs require urgent response from government, saying that the pace government is taking to address such an urgent matter pushes private members to consider alternative legislation.
“If you are interested in legislating against narcotics, why have you not brought back the bill?” Opendi asked adding, “it is seven years since this bill was passed and I have been asking the Ministry of Internal Affairs about its operationalisation, so if you are really interested in the issues of narcotics why have you failed to have this legislation?”
The Attorney General maintained that government is keen on the legislation and pleaded that the House allows him to reintroduce the bill as opposed to a private member’s bill.
“Government is really interested in this bill. We will handle this matter timely, we went through all the processes, having a private member’s bill will take us back to reconcile with the private member. I seek your indulgence to bring back this bill,” requested Kiryowa Kiwanuka.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (Control) Bill, 2016 is aimed at controlling the possession and trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and cultivation of certain plants.
The bill also provides for forfeiture of property derived from illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.