By Lewis S Teh
Former Deputy Director-General for Administration of the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) during the administration of Ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has criticized the government’s recent decision to make drug abuse a non-bailable offense.
“Our government shouldn’t have focused its attention on making drug abuse a non-bailable offense, but rather to set up the system, conduct training, create awareness, and provide education on drugs in various schools”, says Mr. Gwee Porkoor.
Speaking to OK FM 99.5 on Thursday, January 19, 2022, he said all citizens particularly those in the hierarchy of leadership are aware of the drugs situation in Liberia.
Mr. Porkoor argues that drugs don’t have legs to walk, rather, it’s people who traffic them, and border guards, who allegedly allow the harmful substances into the country saying “That’s exactly what I meant when I said everyone has a hand in it.”
He says there is need for the current administration to focus on drugs awareness and education, instead of making the offense Non-bailable, further arguing that the idea is to give students, who are considered the future generation, understand the effect of drugs in society.
“We should set up the system, train mental health doctors, build rehabilitation homes, provide the necessary education before getting into strong laws”, he suggests.
The former LDEA deputy also recommends that those in the hierarchy of the security sector keeping drugs at their homes and workplaces, including those encouraging young people to get hooked to substance abuse should be penalized.
He says though making the crime non-bailable is important, there are things far more important than just making it a capital offense, reiterating the need for training, logistics and employment of competent personnel with requisite knowledge and experience in the sector.
Mr. Porkoor notes that the United Nations Peacebuilding Office made a strong recommendation for the country to address land conflict and drugs abuse or else, Liberia could slip back to war.
He recalls that during the Sirleaf regime, 540 personnel of the LDEA some with specialized training were employed, adding that since the CDC-led government assumed power, the strength of the Agency has dropped drastically, something, he notes, is responsible for the increase in drugs on the Liberian market.
We are all aware that the authorities at the LDEA have told us that there were few individuals who are employed, while the rest of them are volunteers, that is why all our fifteen counties are facing this drugs issue, and if nothing is done to curtail it, we will continue to have problem”, he maintains. Editing by Jonathan Browne