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28 July 2016

Decriminalise narcotics use as part of drug war – Dr. Appiagyei-Atua

Kwadwo AppiagyeiA Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana Law School, Dr Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, is advocating the decriminalisation of narcotics use as part of measures to end the drug war across the globe.

He contended that instead of drug traffickers being arrested and imprisoned, there was the need for countries such as Ghana to adopt approaches to drug policy that put public health, community safety, human rights and development at the centre.

According to him, that was the new paradigm approach that could be adopted to end illicit drug trafficking in Africa and the world at large.

Currently, the Narcotic Drugs Control, Enforcement and Sanctions Act – 1990 (PNDCL 236) criminalises the possession and use of narcotics in Ghana.

Experience from elsewhere

Dr Appiagyei-Atua was speaking at the opening ceremony of the third West Africa Executive Course on Human Rights and Drug Policy in Accra last Monday.

“Over the years, it appears the political will is not there. So our politicians don’t see the need to implement this paradigm,” he noted.

He mentioned the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain as some of the countries that were implementing the new shift and stated that it was time Ghana learnt from them.

“It is important that Ghana incorporates this new paradigm which has been adopted by a lot of countries into the new drug policy that is being drafted,” he stressed.

The situation where only punitive measures were taken against offenders was rather worsening situations in the country, he said, adding that such persons came out of jail as hardened criminals and a liability on society.

Drug policy course

The six-day conference is being organised by the University of Ghana Law School and sponsored by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

Over 30 participants including lawyers, psychologists, human rights advocates from various Anglophone West African countries are attending the conference.

They will be taken through topics such as the human rights dimension of drug trafficking, United Nations General Assembly’s Resolution on drug trafficking, the gender dimension and roles of civil societies in the fight against the menace.

Earlier, Dr Appiagyei-Atua had explained that the purpose of the course was to give the participants the requisite knowledge that would make them better advocates for the new paradigm.

He said similar courses had been organised for judges and parliamentarians in view of the new drug policy.

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