Thursday, 1 June 2006

Questions (181)

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

182 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the details of the European legislation that obliges Ireland to criminalise the possession of hard drugs, to which he referred to in the Dáil Éireann on 24 May 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21452/06]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

I would draw the Deputy's attention to the Council Framework Decision laying down minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties in the field of drug trafficking that was adopted at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 25 and 26 October 2004 (OJ L 335/8 11.11.2004). The objective of that instrument is to target illicit drug trafficking by providing a common EU definition of drug trafficking to be punishable in all the Members States. It also provides minimum rules in relation to punishment levels as well as liability of legal persons and jurisdiction and prosecution.

Article 2 of that Framework Decision provides for crimes linked to trafficking in drugs and precursors. The article obliges the Member States to make it a criminal offence to engage in certain conduct such as the production, manufacture, distribution, sale, importation and exportation of drugs and to possess or buy drugs for any of these purposes or to cultivate opium poppy, coco bush or cannabis. The manufacture, transport or distribution of precursors (the substances used to make up drugs) knowing that they are to be used in or for the illicit production or manufacture of drugs will also be an offence. Provision is also made for the exclusion from the scope of the instrument of conduct committed exclusively for a person's own consumption as defined by national law.

The instrument also provides for minimum rules in relation to penalty levels. The penalties range from effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal sanctions to a maximum penalty of at least 10 years.