Vice President and Justice Minister Raynold Oilouch said that the court imposes sentences to drug traffickers that “appear to be too lenient”, hence urging the judiciary to support the government’s war against illegal drugs by ensuring that convicted criminals received the punishments they deserved.

In a letter dated May 21 which was addressed to Chief Justice Arthur Ngiraklsong, Oilouch explained that law enforcement officers and the Attorney General’s office worked aggressively to combat and curtail illegal drug operations and prosecute drug-related cases respectively.

“Although we make significant and substantial progress in our efforts to investigate and prosecute violators of laws related to illicit drugs, we seem to fall short when the Court imposes sentences that appear to be too lenient,” Oilouch stated in his letter.

“Many convicted criminals are simply given probation or serve minimal prison terms and then released back to the community, where they, very often, head back to their old ways of dealing with illicit drugs,” Oilouch explained.

Oilouch also shared that the Ministry had been receiving complaints and criticisms from the community about why the system is “too soft on these hard criminals.”

Oilouch reiterated his request for the courts to support the fight against illegal drugs by ensuring that “convicted criminals receive the harsh punishments that they deserve under the law.”

“Unless we are all united in our efforts, we will not be able to rid Palau of the illicit drugs that continue to demoralize our people and our nation,” Oilouch stated.

Chief Justice Ngiraklsong replied to Oilouch in a letter and acknowledged the Vice President’s observation and said that “as such, aggressive prosecutions of drug cases are frustrated.”

“In recognition of the independence of each Justice and each Court, I am referring your letter to Presiding Justice Oldiais Ngiraikelau of the Trial Division of the Palau Supreme Court to respond to your concerns,” Ngraklsong said. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)