In 2013, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) conducted a West Africa Threat Assessment that estimated the yearly value of only cocaine transiting through West Africa as US$ 1.25 billion- significantly more than the annual national budgets of countries in the region.
Moreso, these development pose serious threats to good governance, peace and stability, economic growth and public health.
The use of these dangerous drugs have also triggered numerous conflicts and misunderstandings in the region.
It is obvious that, some of the drugs such marijuana have been in the region before West Africa became a major transit point. The response against this devastating menace has been the same from one government to another in West Africa.
As drug consumers being dealt with as the same as traffickers, characterised by tough punitive measures with its attendant violation of human rights.
However, menace has opened a window to corruption and also creating unnecessary burden on the overwhelmed criminal justice system.
As part of its efforts to help address this cankar, the West African Civil Society Institute(WACSI) with the support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa(OSIWA) organised a regional Consultation on Drugs Policy Reform in West Africa in Accra.
Under theme: The Road to the United Nation’s General Assembly Special Session ( UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem”.
In an interview with Nana Afadzinu, Executive Director of West African Civil Society Institute (WACSI) she noted that , West African citizens, especially the youth and children have the right to be safe from the scourge of drug trafficking.
According to her, the manner in which drug consumers are being dealt the same as traffickers, characterised by tough punitive measures violate the human rights.
This she said, it has become imperative for West African governments and civil society to engage in strategic and productive consultations on drug policy reforms.
The two day programme was aimed at providing an opportunity for government officials and national law enforcement agencies in order to discuss policy issues necessary reforms identified at the national- level meetings.
However, she cited the following key outcomes of the regional consultative meeting:
To clearly identified milestones and challenges under the current drug policy measures in the region.
To invigorate and create regional momentum for drug policy reforms in West Africa.
And to develop a West African common position towards the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS)that calls for human rights and public health oriented drug policies with emphasis on harm reduction.
The meeting attracted 11 West African countries including Benin, Cape Verde, Côte D’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali , Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
By: Isaac Kofi Dzokpo/ NewsGhana.com.gh
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