The Government of Nepal has ratified the two UN Conventions related to narcotic drugs, namely, the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs, 1961 (as amended by the 1972 Protocol) and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988. Nepal is still not a party to the 1971 Convention.
In Nepal, the Narcotics Drugs (Control) Act, 2033 (1976) is the legal framework for drug control issues. Section 3(a) stipulates narcotic drugs as: cannabis, medicinal cannabis, opium, processed opium, plants and leaves of coca, any substance prepared with mixing opium, coca extract which include mixtures or salts, any natural or synthetic narcotic drug or psychotropic substance and their salts and other substance as may be specified by the Nepal Gazette notification. Any person violating this act shall be punished by up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine. While the non–physician prescribed consumption of narcotics drugs is a criminal offence the Act has provision for the prevention and treatment of drug users. Rules under this Act have, as yet, not been framed.
The Narcotics Drug Control Act from 1976 was subject to a comprehensive and important amendment in 1993. The Act was revised by the Ministry of Home Affairs and reviewed by the Ministry of Law. The amendment which came into force on 14 June 1993 included: (i) incorporation of the SAARC convention of 1992 on Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, (ii) inclusion of the provisions of the 1961 Single Convention (including the 1972 Protocol amending that Convention) and the 1988 UN Convention on Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, (iii) legalization of controlled delivery, (iv) increased penalties for drug offences, (v) an asset seizure section, (vi) a section on money laundering (including a bank secrecy act), (vii) legislation of advanced investigation techniques and methods of gathering evidence such as wire tapping (including room and telephone bugging) and surveillance photography, (viii) authorization of NDCLEU to prosecute drug law offences, (ix) a reward scheme, and (x) the destruction of seized drugs.
Following these amendments, discussions were held during the period 1994–1995 between UNDCP and HMGN regarding the formulation of separate legislation in the areas of money laundering, asset forfeiture and criminal conspiracy. Terms of Reference were developed for a UNDCP legal mission for finalizing these matters. A legal consultation mission to Nepal was carried out. Working together with a government lawyer with considerable experience in narcotics control, the mission successfully drafted: (i) an amendment to the Narcotics Drug Control Act, (ii) a Witness Protection Act, (iii) a Mutual Legal Assistance Act, (iv) a Crime Proceeds Act, and (v) a Controlled Chemicals, Equipment and Materials Rule Act. The draft bills were translated into Nepalese by a local translator and submitted to HMGN for consideration. The Ministry of Home Affairs however considered the bills to be too complex in their draft form and therefore deemed them not suitable for local conditions for Nepal.
Institutions and National Policy
The Department of Narcotics Control and Disaster Management, under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has overarching responsibility for narcotics issues in Nepal. The MHA has established a National Co–ordination Committee for Drug Abuse Control (NCC) under the Home Minister. This includes the Secretaries of Home, Health, Finance, Education, Foreign Affairs and Communications, together with the Inspector General of Police, Members and Secretary of the Planning Commission, and members of NGOs and other professional organizations. Generally, it has met less than once a year. Below the NCC is an Executive Committee, of which members include joint secretaries from the ministries of Education, Finance, Law and Justice, Health, and Women and Social Welfare, a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP), National Project Director of the Drug Abuse Demand Reduction Project, and the Chief of the National Drug Control Law Enforcement Unit (NDCLEU). This committee meets more regularly than the NCC, and is working towards closer co–operation and co–ordination of national efforts, and a strengthening of management procedures, policy and strategy.
The jurisdiction of the Home Ministry has been defined by His Majesty’s Government’s (Functional Division) Regulation, 1996 A.D. There are 3 Divisions, 6 Departments, 5 Regional Administration Offices, 75 District Administration Offices, 75 District Police Offices and 73 Jails under this ministry. The Department of Narcotic Control and Disaster Management (DNCMD) in the Ministry of Home Affairs handles narcotic issues.
The HIV/AIDS programme in the country is part of the activities of the Ministry of Health. The national coordinating body for HIV/AIDS prevention and control is the National AIDS Coordination Committee (NACC), which is chaired by the Health Minister. There is a need for closer cooperation between the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health in matters relating to drug–related HIV/AIDS.