The National Drug Policy Reform Summit has ended with calls from civil society organizations for the review of the Liberian Drug Law.
The Summit was held in commemoration of this year International Day Against Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking. The summit brought together key policy makers, stakeholders and law enforcement institutions as well as CSOs in the drug sector of Liberia held at the US Embassy in Monrovia on June 22, 2018.
Welcome participants at the event, Mr. Paul Hinshaw, Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy stated that the US Embassy is always interested in supporting an event of such especially activities that have the proclivity to transform the youth of Liberia.
For his part Consolidated Youth for Peace & Development Executive Director, James Koryor stated that by resolution 42/112 of 7 December 1987, the General Assembly decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.
Supported each year by individuals, communities and various organizations all over the world, this global observance aims to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent to society Mr. Koryor averred.
According to COYPED boss, Liberia current Drug Law needs to consider harsh and tougher punishment for drug trafficker while considering treatment, care, and support for substance users.
Mr. Koryor furthered stressed that there is a need for stakeholders to concentrate on children born in the ghetto by parents who are drug-users because these children are vulnerable and there is an urgent need to provide safety for them.
Already overburdened with primary health care concerns and with health systems lacking in critical personnel and infrastructure required to effectively address drug abuse problems, prevention of the onset of the abuse of substances should be the priority for Liberia the Human Rights & Drug Policy Advocate stressed.
The COYPED boss also stated that repressive policing practices with the use of brutal force and incarceration, without taking into consideration the prevention and health care component of substance abuse is counter-productive.
In his opening statement, the Deputy Minister for Youth Development at the Ministry of Youth & Sports, Honorable Isaac Doe, reaffirmed that government willingness to cater to youth who are substance users living on the streets.
Minister Doe also stated that drug abuse prevention related activities are to carry out by the youth themselves. He called on the young people and youth-led organizations to be steadfast in helping with information at the community level to prevent substance abuse.
Making a special statement, Madam Emma Sundbald, Political Officer at the European Delegation to Liberia, commended COYPED and partners for the farsightedness to organize such an important event.
The EU-Liberia Political Officer recounts her institution support to drug prevention in West Africa and Liberia highlighting the Peer Education Program for Alcohol & Drug Prevention in Liberia that is been implemented by COYPED.
Madam Sundbald stressed that good drug laws should address Human rights, youth participation, and data availability.
For her part the ECOWAS Volunteer Program Coordinator, Mrs. Bukola Ayoola commended the organizers of the event and stated that ECOWAS is committed to fighting drug abuse in the region through the implementation of the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking and other related crimes.
The EVP Coordinator also stated that ECOWAS will continue to support programs that will make the region drug free.
For her part, the Director at the Mentor Health Unit at the Ministry of Health, Mrs. Angie Tarr-Nyankoon stated that drug abuse is related to mentor health and as such the Ministry is providing little help to address addiction. Madam Tarr-Nyankoon stressed that the only mental health facility in the country is also helping to cater to substance users.
The second session of the event saw presentations from the Liberian National Police represented by its Commission of Police for Administration, Mr. Ambrues M. Nebo, Sr., the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency represented by its Director for Prevention, Mr. Robert B. Kutu-Aquoi and the Liberia Immigration Service represented by its Chief of Research & Planning.
At the end of the summit, civil society organizations agreed to institute a national petition on the National Legislature to ensure that the Liberian Drug Law is review and amended to address some of the many lapses within the current law.
The event supports the Peer Education Program for Alcohol & Drug Prevention among Young People in Liberia Project been implemented by the Consolidated Youth for Peace & Development (COYPED) supported by UNODC & ECOWAS fully funded by the European Union.