After the drug advocacy tour in Nigeria, Drug Policy Alliance and WADPN engaged with civil society organisations, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and Stakeholders in Sierra Leone on the country’s drug control response with the support of OSF-Africa.
Over the period, the influence of Liberia and Sierra Leone’s ongoing legislative processes, both countries have shown the will and commitment to reviewing their stringent drug laws and implementing significant sentence reduction for the use and possession of illicit substances, providing treatment as an alternative to incarceration and steps towards the regulation of cannabis along medical and traditional uses.
In Liberia, tensions between Parliament and the Senate over the constitutionality of trafficking as a non-bailable offence have prevented the ascension of the approved bill to the Executive for validation by the president. In Sierra Leone, the bill has been successfully reviewed and amended with the NDLEA; however other stakeholders still require convincing for the bill to be enacted in Parliament.
The Drug Policy Alliance’s expertise in the drug policy space and knowledge of international practices is worth tapping into. DPA’s support helped to inform the discussion by meeting with key stakeholders to advocate for decriminalisation and sentence reduction for the use and possession of illicit substances.
Engagement with various stakeholders in Sierra Leone focused on visitation to drug use communities, treatment and rehabilitation facilities to assess drug control response’s impact and ensure drug treatment and rehabilitation effectiveness. Considering mainstreaming public health to drug control responses.
However, the threat of illicit drug trafficking poses to national security and requires considerations for a more effective approach; therefore, the legislative committee must own the reform process, using Liberia as a case study.
The founder of DPA, Ethan and our ED met with Mr Habib Kamara, Executive Director of Social Linkage for Youth Development, one of the leading harm reduction service providers in Sierra Leone and a member of WADPN, to discuss the future of harm reduction, opportunities, and challenges.
Sierra Leone implements its national strategic plan with some degree of police assistance or partnership with the police to enhance diversion from the criminal justice system and referral for treatment and rehabilitation.
The team, led by Prince & Ethan, met with the Ministry of Health & Sanitation and the NDLEA to call on their support to #EndTheWarOnDrugs in Sierra Leone. The team asked that they lead the fight against drugs from a public health perspective.
In concluding the drug advocacy tour in Sierra Leone, the team also met with the legislative committee of parliament to brief them on the ongoing drug policy reform process in the country to address the #WarOnDrugs.
Also, Ethan acknowledged that “…there's a real opportunity for reform here (Sierra Leone).”