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USA Spends $51m on drugs 500,000 behind bars WACD report reveals

USA Spends $51m on drugs 500,000 behind bars WACD report reveals

Foundation for Democratic Initiatives and Development has engaged ten Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in discussing the June 2014 report and recommendations of the West Africa Commission on Drugs (WACD).

The discussion meeting was held on Friday, July 31st, at the FDID office at 25 Rawdon Street in Freetown.

While summarizing the report, the Program Manager of FDID, Aiah Nabieu Mokuwah, observed that the law enforcement agencies have failed in the fight against drugs as they cannot provide records of the number of drug addicts they have reformed, but that City of Rest, an organization providing care and counseling for drug addicts, and the Kissy Mental Home charged with the responsibility of taking care of the insane have records of the number of drug addicts they have reformed.

He continued that the report indicates that West Africa is no longer just a transit zone for drugs arriving from South America and South Asia, Europe and North America but has become a significant zone of consumption of cannabis and heroin.

The Program Manager pointed out that the amount spent annually in the United State on the war on drugs is over 51,000,000,000 United State Dollars while 500,000 people are behind bars for drug related offences yet drugs are as available as ever.

He said West Africa, particularly Sierra Leone. Must not become a new front line in the failed war on drugs as evident in the fact the consumption has never reduced nor traffickers put out of business.

Mokuwah suggested that traffickers and accomplices should face the full force of the law but it should not be applied disproportionately against the poor, uneducated and vulnerable while the powerful and well connected slip through the enforcement net.

He stressed that drug use must be regarded primarily as a public health problem as drug users need help, not punishment. He called on Sierra Leone Government to act together to change laws and policies that have not worked and to partner with Civil Societies in these efforts, adding that simple use or possession of any illicit drug by an individual should not be punishable under criminal law. After thorough deliberation on the pros and cons of the report, the ten civil society organizations wasted no time to set up a Coalition called the Drug Policy Network (DPN) led by Foundation for Democratic Initiatives and Development. The aim is to implement the recommendations of the report and to treat drug use as a public health issue with socio economic causes and consequences, rather than as a criminal justice matter.

DPN also aims at actively confronting the political and governance challenges that incite corruption within government, the security service and the Judiciary which traffickers exploit and to develop, reform and harmonize drug laws on the basis of existing and emerging minimum standards and to pursue decriminalization of drugs and low-level low level non-violent drug offences.

DPN further aims at collecting baseline data including citizens’ survey and research on drug trafficking and drug consumption.

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