By Binta Jaiteh
Hon Siaka Sonko, the Minister of Interior has yesterday disclosed that the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Interior designed and implemented strategies to address the disturbing surge in cannabis abuse and trafficking, saying this covers surprise suppression as well as demand deduction.
The minister disclosed this during the questions and answers session at the National Assembly, noting that key indicators are the formation of an elaborate national drug control strategy for 2019, and 2023, and the Drug Control Act. The NDCF provides strategic measures to counter and address the trafficking and abuse of drugs particularly cannabis.
He said records revealed that most of the people involved in the abuse of drugs are youths between the age of 13 to 35 and the socio-economic of these people are unemployment and underemployment, dropping out of school. While adding that, the home environment contributes significantly as a factor to cannabis abuse. “We therefore require a holistic multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary balance and integrated drug control policy to approach and address the problem,” he expressed
According to him, to succeed in countering the problem of drug abuse, he said they must approach it as a public health issue and not as a criminal justice issue. an approach the world is using on the part of interdiction the country’s porous with the cannabis production area. Saying rebel control part of Casamance and the limited resources allocated for operational activities presents a serious challenge to enforcement. It was a result of this situation that DLEAG signed an MOU with their counterparts in Senegal.
“Similarly a tripartite MOU with Senegal and Bissau was signed in Banjul in July 2019, within the framework of this arrangement a joint operation open roads was conducted in December 2019 to strengthen subregional cooperation in drug interdiction and to nurture interoperability among the law enforcement officers in the three counties“ he disclosed.
However, a series of school outreach programs in the form of symposiums, drama, and debate are conducted in schools across the country, and the establishment of anti-drug laws in various schools.
Community outreach programs targeting traditional and youth leaders and women groups.
However, Hon Modou Lamin Bah asked the Minister about the plans the Ministry is making to make sure that drugs illicit don’t enter the country.
The Minister replied by saying there are lot of ongoing training with the staff of DLEAG despite a shortage of resources