Drug exiles

THE Cakaudrove Provincial Council has ruled out the option of exiling those convicted for marijuana offences. It has instead agreed to look at other options to help these convicts, who are one of their own, become better citizens.

This is at odds with a decision earlier this year by chiefs of Tunuloa, Cakaudrove, Nakobo and Natewa districts to exile for five years any villager found guilty of cultivating and/or peddling marijuana.

Cakaudrove Crime Prevention Committee chairman — the Tui Korocau, Ratu Manoa Rakai — who could not be reached yesterday for a comment had earlier said the decision was part of efforts to stop marijuana cultivation in the province. He had also confirmed in an earlier interview that they had met and discussed this village bylaw with Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

The exile decision generated much discussion at the council meeting at Yaroi Village in Savusavu.

Members agreed the 15 districts of the province look at other options apart from exile.

People of Cakaudrove living in the Western Division proposed to the council chairman, Filise Vuki through a letter, that the rule of exile decided by the chiefs earlier this year be not practised and other options considered instead.

One of the options outlined in the proposal was the punishment to plant crops for village functions and the need for counselling.

Other council members agreed to the proposal from the West, saying exiling villagers would not stop marijuana cultivation or peddling.

Mr Vuki said exiling villagers was not the answer to resolving marijuana cases. He said that any crime could never be resolved by harsher penalties such as exiling villagers. He added it was the responsibility of village elders and parents to see their children opted for better things and not drug peddling.

He urged the traditional leaders and council members to work with their people in looking at other options of helping youths become better citizens.

Mr Vuki also reminded village headmen, elders and parents to continue working closely with the younger generation in farm work and other activities.

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