Law enforcement and khat: An analysis of current issues


This study drew upon focus group discussions with communities known to use khat, principally the Somali community. The researchers also interviewed police officers. The study was conducted initially in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria but was later expanded to include Western Australia. The law around khat in Australia is inconsistent and sometimes hard to find. Victoria would appear to be the central hub for the illegal distribution of khat throughout Australia and it is likely that the importation of khat is organised by arm's length networks. This means that licences to import for personal use are likely to be regularly misused for the purpose of on-selling khat interstate, or possibly also within Victoria. Another clear problem is the lack of clarity of the law on this issue, especially given that many khat users do not speak English as a first language. While there is minimal reported case law in relation to khat in Australia at this stage, cases argued in the United States and Canada have demonstrated problems with similar legislative approaches as those found in Australia. (Summary, edited)