Narcotics Offences Dataset: Statistical Analysis & Qualitative Overview for Pakistan – 2024

Date.23 Apr, 2024

This publication delivers a comprehensive analysis of narcotics offences in Pakistan, encompassing arrest statistics, incarceration demographics, legal amendments, and systemic challenges within the criminal justice system. Understanding the nature and scope of these offences is crucial for effective policy formulation and law enforcement strategies.

Over the past decade, the global prevalence of drug use disorders has surged to 39.5 million individuals, marking a substantial 45% increase. However, drug laws, policies, and drug control & treatment practices often do not take into account the right to the highest attainable standards of health and the need for voluntary access to harm reduction services and drug dependence treatment. Compulsory drug treatment, the lack of harm reduction measures and voluntary treatment including in prisons, over-incarceration and prison overcrowding and its adverse impact on the health of incarcerated persons who are drug dependent and limited access to health care, the use of the death penalty for drug related offences, and their disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups remain key human rights concerns in the global legal and policy framework with regard to addressing issues related to drug control.

The extensive allocation of resources, including monthly visits by judges to jails for the release of imprisoned individuals under petty offences, contributes to the strain on the criminal justice system. Most of these individuals are charged under Sections 9(a) and (b) of the Control of Narcotics and Substances Act 1997 (CNSA). Lengthy trials necessitate the involvement of prosecutors, forensic department personnel, and judges, further adding to an overburdened justice system.

Additionally, imprisoning individuals for drug-related offences exacerbates the strain on Pakistan’s already overcrowded jails. As of December 2023, Pakistani prisons are operating at a staggering rate of 152.2% of its actual capacity, highlighting the urgent need for reform. Implementing proper sentencing guidelines for cases under the Control of Narcotics and Substances Act (CNSA) would indeed constitute a significant reform measure.

The criminalisation of possession of small quantities of drugs has led to high levels of detention of people who use drugs. The global prison population bears the weight of approximately 20% sentenced for drug offences, exacerbating issues of overcrowding. Despite the increasing convergence of human rights and drug policy dialogues, the problem of overcrowding persists as a result of the prevailing punitive approach in current drug control policies, which primarily focus on suppressing drug use.

Through a detailed analysis of the process flow from arrest to imprisonment and the analysis of disaggregated data, this dataset identifies systemic challenges and explores opportunities for strategic, human rights based reform. It focuses specifically on narcotics offences under the CNSA, providing insights into the functioning of the system and the implications for individuals incarcerated under CNSA-related offences.

This statistics report will serve as compelling evidence for policymakers, law enforcement agencies, researchers, and stakeholders involved in shaping sentencing guidelines and policies for narcotics-related offences in Pakistan.

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