Drugs and drug policies in Oman with special reference to the death penalty
The problem of drugs in Oman has assumed serious proportions in recent years. It leads to creation of an underground economy and is associated with loss of skilled manpower. However, the problem has several dimensions. It has direct and indirect adverse effects. In response to increases in both worldwide drug production and drug demand in Oman, law makers in Oman instituted legal measures designed to protect the health, welfare and finance of people from the effects of drug use. In addition, law makers in Oman have recognized that trade in illicit drugs is a global activity and that drug-related activities are associated with other criminal behaviour; therefore they have tried to honour the spirit of international conventions related to drug control. Thus, the Drug Act No. 17 was passed in March 1999 and came into force on 6th April 1999, to regulate the procedures regarding the trafficking and trade of drugs in Oman. The most striking feature of the new law is a 'death penalty. The death penalty would be applied to those charged with drug trafficking and smuggling, as laid down in article No 43. Therefore, the question is can the death penalty deter criminals from committing trafficking and smuggling in drugs? No research has been done to examine the effect of the new drug law in Oman. This thesis aims to fill that gap and investigate the impact of the new drugs law in Oman. Data collection for the study was carried out using three methods: questionnaire, semi-structured interview and documentary data from police files before and after the introduction of the death penalty for the period from 1st April 1996 to 31st March 2002. The total period covered was 72 months. Statistical reports and other research papers carried out in Oman and other countries were also reviewed. The results of testing a number of hypotheses indicated that since the introduction of the death penalty for drug offences, the numbers of drug arrests and the incidence of violence related to drug offences have increased. In addition, the smuggling of drugs by sea has increased. Moreover, heroin trafficking has increased since the introduction of the death penalty. The study found that there is a lack of knowledge about drugs (the types of drugs, punishment, addictions treatment and belief about drug effects) among both groups of participants, drug offenders and non-drug offenders. Finally, the findings of this study indicate that the introduction of the death penalty in Oman does not deter drug offenders from involvement in drug related offences in general and drug trafficking offences in particular.