Dechen Dolkar 

The government’s prosecutor arm has been kept busy with the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) forwarding 926 cases involving 1,531 defendants in the past one year, according to the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) annual report.

This was an increase by 48.6 percent compared with 2022. Among the 926 cases referred by the RBP, 425 cases were offences related to drug and substance abuse, 260 cases related to offenses against persons followed by 137 offenses against property.

Drug and substance abuse cases saw an increase of 214 percent last year compared to the previous year, probably because of the stringent durg enforcement operations the police resorted to.

Among the drug related cases, 351 cases were of illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (ITNDPS) followed by 39 cases involving illicit trafficking of cannabis and its derivatives. Additionally, the OAG reported 27 cases of substance abuse, six cases of illegal inhalant/solvent sale, and two cases of possession of cannabis.

The OAG also recorded a 34.1 percent increase in sexual offense cases, totalling 110 cases. Out of these, 53 percent were related to rape of a child aged 12 and above, 15 percent were related to child molestation, and 14 percent were cases of statutory rape.

In 2023, the OAG returned a total of 35 cases to the RBP. This includes 26 cases referred by the RBP in 2023, out of which two were only partially returned. The remaining number of cases returned includes seven cases referred by RBP in 2022 and one each in 2021 and 2020.

The OAG received judgments for 629 cases referred by the RBP. Out of the total judgments received, 452 cases pertained to trial cases from 2023, 113 cases from 2022 and 17 cases from 2021.

The OAG convicted 446 cases. 

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has forwarded 31 cases involving 140 defendants. Additionally, the Office also observed a 14.8 percent increase in cases from the ACC compared to the previous year.

Out of the total cases received from ACC, one was returned, one is under joint investigation, 15 are pending before the courts while 14 are under review.

As of 31st December 2023, a total of 26 cases –  14 from 2023, 10 from 2022, and two from 2021 are under review. The Office has 35 cases – 15 each from 2023 and 2022, one each from 2021, 2020 and 2018, and two from 2019 pending before the Courts.

The OAG resituated Nu 10.284M to the government, compensated Nu 21.459M to victims, and Nu 28.297M repaid to financial institutions as loan repayment.