Rehabilitation of former drug offenders stressed

National 2 minutes, 23 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE urgency to rehabilitate and provide source of livelihood to former drug offenders prior to completion of their conviction term was one of the key issues stressed during the State Legislative Council Meeting yesterday morning.

Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Mudim Dato Paduka Bakar, Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office, said that several programmes were currently under study to curb relapse cases among ex-drug offenders.

The minister called for meeting such objectives within the government agencies to deal and to restructure the process of rehabilitation in the sultanate.

In this regard, selected officers at the Narcotics Control Bureau of the Prime Minister's Office have been sent overseas to observe, monitor and analyse a range of rehabilitation mechanisms in the region such as in Singapore and Malaysia.

Early this month, the Al-Islah Rehabilitation Centre was moved from the Ministry of Home Affairs to Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in a move to upgrade and improve rehabilitation through the introduction of a new programme called Therapeutic Community aimed at reducing the number of returning inmates.

Partnerships between local non-governmental organisations and the Centre have been also encouraged by the minister in areas of 'after care' and basic skill training for employment.

Employment of ex-drug offender is a major concern as they face difficulties in getting jobs due to social stigma. The minister called for more awareness in the society so that such individuals can join the mainstream again.

Regulations, policies, laws and treatment process of drug offenders before and after the sentence are also being reviewed, the minister, focusing on areas to give the drug offenders a second chance in life. Datin Masni Mohd Ali, the president of Basmida, one of Brunei's very few outreach support services for ex-drug offenders, told The Brunei Times that these individuals should be acknowledged by the society.

"For this to happen..all levels of the society need to accept these ex-drug offenders back into the community. We all have a role," she said.

Rehabilitation or 'after-care' programmes should also attend to the current needs of the country specifically relating to employment.

"..such rehab centres and services need to be more friendly and should equip them with the skills demanded by the private sector," she added.

From working with numerous ex-drug offenders through Basmida, as well as helping them secure employment, Datin Masni said it creates a sense of self-esteem, a key element she said, in curbing relapses.

"When they have jobs, it gives them a sense of realisation and self-responsibility, which helps their self-esteem. I have seen some who really shine, creation of jobs and employment opportunities is the key," she said, adding that it contributes to a harmonious family environment.

She cited 'graduates' of public rehabilitation agencies where many have come to Basmida for employment assistance.

The Brunei Times