[bsa_pro_ad_space id=1]

GeneralLiberia news

Sheikh Kromah welcomes new drug law

The executive director of Ahlul-Bayt Assembly for Development in Liberia, Sheikh Askary Musa Kromah, has lauded the Liberian Legislature for passing the amended drug bill into law that seeks to make drug importation a non-bailable offense.

Sheikh Kromah made the statement over the weekend in Jah Tondo Town, Brewnville at program commemorating Prophet Mohammed on his forward pilgrimage as Huatu Wadaa.

According to him, drug dealers, cultivators, and manufacturers are not eligible for bail until trial is completed and if found guilty, they would be sentenced to life imprisonment.

He points out that the law when approved by President Weah, includes stricter penalties for drug offenses and makes it extremely difficult for individuals charged with drug-related crimes to be released on bail.

He observes that this is a significant change from the previous law, which allowed individuals charged with drug offenses to be released on bail and sentenced to about 10 years in jail.

He describes the enactment by the legislature as part of the government’s effort to combat drug-related crimes, which are becoming a major problem across the country.

 “The problem of drug abuse is not new, but the trend has become worrisome with a high prevalence rate of drug use among Liberian youth as the rise in organized crime has made it easier for drugs to be produced, trafficked and sold.”

The clergyman adds that Liberia has one of the highest rates of drug use in West Africa, with cannabis and heroin being the most commonly used, and males more likely to use drugs than their female counterparts.

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=1]

Sheikh Kromah explains that Ahlu-Bay (AS) Assembly for Development in Liberia operates several academic institutions across the country with affordable fees for parents and guardians who cannot afford to send their children to schools that charge exorbitant fees.

“Making the drug law a non-bailable crime will help mitigate its abuse and cycling across the country”, he says.

According to him, some reasons why substance abuse has increased in the country is that often perpetrators are released on bail.

He warns that if this continues, it will be difficult to win the fight against drugs despite government efforts.

He calls on President George Weah to sign the amended drug law that will make Liberia a drug-free country.

At the same time, he appeals to government to empower the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) and other state security institutions to help the fight against drugs importation, proliferation and addiction.

The Liberian government launched a US$13 million program in collaboration with the United Nations and partners to provide rehabilitation, skills training, social integration, and employment opportunities for drug users across the country.

Launching the program last year, President Weah observed that the “Growing cases of drug abuse” in the country pose an imminent danger to the population.

But since the launch, much has not been heard about its implementation as many drug users roam the streets daily, committing crimes.

The Legislative amendments come after a joint Conference Committee set up to harmonize the differences between both the House and the Senate on earlier versions of the law proposed that trafficking, cultivation, manufacture, importation, exportation, and sale of illicit drugs should be made a first-degree felony here.

The committee added that the sentence for such crime is life imprisonment upon conviction, with properties, real and personal used in the commission of these crimes escheated to the state.

The proceeds from the sale of the properties according to the Committee, would be appropriated with 25% going towards drug enforcement agencies, another 25% allotted for drug prevention and rehabilitation programs, and the remaining 50% allocated to the general revenue.

The Committee at the same time makes the use or consumption of controlled illicit drugs a second-degree felony having recognized the constitutional right to bail. The bail amount the Committee noted, will equal twice the value of the illicit drugs, and be covered in cash thru a manager’s check, or a bank certificate.

The Committee argued that illicit drug users are victims, rather than criminals.  It also mandates that non-Liberian convicts for any of these drug-related offenses will face deportation after serving their sentence.

Based on the Committee’s advice, members of the Legislature voted in majority to the various proposed amendments, coining the amended law as the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 2023. Editing by Jonathan Browne

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=1] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=2] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=3] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=4] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=5] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=6]
Back to top button