The CND is the policy setting body of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It brings together member states of the UN to discuss and set policy direction for the international drug control regime. The CND also reviews and analyses the global drug situation, considering supply and demand reduction. It takes action through resolutions and decisions.
Speaking at the high-level convergence held at Vienna, Austria, DG Gassama said: “The Gambia aligned itself with the statement of the African Group and would like to make this statement in its national capacity. The Gambia recognized the challenges facing the world in tackling the world drug problem, thus affirm its commitment to the initiatives and efforts of the UNODC and the CND to play its part in mitigating the impact of drugs on our societies.”
The Government of The Gambia, he went on, is in the final year of implementation of the first national drug Control Strategy. “The goals of this strategy include measures to promote approaching drug abuse as a public health issue by departing from the strict criminal justice approach. It is evident that the seemingly strict criminal laws around drugs have so far fallen short of the desired objectives around the world,” he posited.
“The Gambia is currently overhauling the Drug Control Act to create room for greater flexibility for first time offenders for cannabis by introducing non- custodial sentencing such as community service and mentoring. Local seizure records revealed an increasing trend in the abuse of controlled drugs particularly Ecstasy since Covid-19. As a mitigation measure, Drug Demand Reduction activities are intensified but the impact of these efforts is limited due to the lack of rehabilitation facility.
“The Gambia, therefore, invites partners to support in the effort towards establishing rehabilitation center to cater for the peculiar needs of drug users. This is a demonstration of The Gambia’s will and commitment to implementation of drug laws that are guided by human rights considerations and that comply with recommended international standards and best practices.
“The Gambia noted initiatives around the international cannabis control regime, including the rescheduling of cannabis. However, we advocate for responsible national policy frameworks that guarantee the use of cannabis for the intended medical and scientific purposes only. Cannabis is the most abused drug in The Gambia and the same is the experience in most African countries due to its availability and affordability. We will therefore continue to handle cannabis control measures with caution and alertness in order to save our youth.”
Consistent with the international drug control conventions, Gassama said, The Gambia pursues a robust international cooperation agenda. “We have succeeded in signing bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements with countries in the region and beyond. Currently, we have cooperation instruments that facilitate intelligence sharing and joint investigations with anti-narcotics agencies in Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Nigeria and the UK Border Force. Negotiation to sign MoU with the DEA of the United States, NCA of the United Kingdom, DCSA of Italy, the General Directorate of Narcotics Control of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Counter Narcotics Department of Turkey.”