A visiting delegation from the West Africa Commission on Drugs or WACD recently reported a high increase in the number of drug users in Liberia.
The WACD delegation, headed by Commissioner Dr. Mary Chinery-Hesse, described the huge number of young people and pregnant women involved in the use of narcotics as a dire situation. Dr. Hesse and delegation have been in Liberia on an official visit since 29 February, working and holding discussions with the government, through its relevant sectors, including the Drug Enforcement Agency, Health Ministry, Police, Justice Ministry, as well as civil society organizations.
“There is a large number of young people if you go into the ghettos, you’ll see them both men and women including those who are pregnant and everything … in a very dire situation,” she indicated recently at the Foreign Ministry following a meeting with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on WACD’s findings and recommendation as contained in a report on drugs.
“The punitive methods used to contain the drug menace have led to unintended consequences; a huge black market has emerged and is fuelling corruption in the sub-region,” she said, adding that domestic
drug consumption is on the rise, as many young people find themselves in prison and come out more hardened than they went in.
“… There are established cases of HIV infections as a result of injection drug practices,” said the WACD Commissioner further observing that drug users, who need help, are driven underground because of stigmatization and criminalization of drug use.
In consonance with the report of the delegation from the West Africa Commission on Drugs, the necessary condition was now available for the government’s intervention at all levels. Quite frankly, the WACD did not have to report on the increase in the number of drug users and ghettos before the acknowledgement by the government; the increase in drug trafficking and usage have been an open secret across.
Be that as it may and now that it has been observed by the WACD, it is now incumbent on the Government of Liberia to exert all practical and proactive efforts, through its agencies concerned, to ensure a “ serious fight” against drug abuse. In so doing, it must work with the various communities, through their leaderships and organizations for this ‘battle’ to succeed.
In view of the foregoing, the issue of border security must be considered; and that anyone involved with facilitating the entry of drugs in Liberia, in any manner and form, must be dealt in accordance
with the laws.
Moreover, as part of the government’s intervention, dealers and users of locally producers of narcotics must not only be arrested and detained for period of time, but made to undergo serious rehabilitation – skills training in other meaningful areas of economic life.
Additionally, security personnel within our borders must be guided against facilitation, protection and usage of narcotic drugs. We are of the fervent belief that upon implementation of these and other recommended initiatives, drug trafficking and usage would be curtailed.