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DRUG LAW REFORM ADVOCACY WORKSHOP OPENS IN ACCRA

Representatives from 16 country focal points from the West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN) country chapters and other partners implementing the Global Fund multi-country grant are meeting in Accra.


The two-day workshop aims to empower local civil society and other stakeholders to understand, disseminate and promote the West Africa Commission on Drugs’ (WACD’s) `Model Drug Law and the “Dakar Appeal” at the national level and use them as tools for change in current drug control laws.


The workshop also aims to sensitize and build the capacity of civil society on the WACD Model Drug Law and the “Dakar Appeal”; describe the dissemination of opportunities and discuss drug law reform advocacy in the region more broadly; and provide a safe platform for participants to understand key provisions in the Model Drug Law and how these align with the United Nations (UN) Drug Control Conventions, among others.


Participants are expected to become more conversant with and well-informed about the key provisions of the Model Drug Law and be able to develop concrete follow-up actions to be implemented at the country level towards drug policy reforms.


The workshop is also intended to promote the increased use and adoption of the Model Drug Law and the Dakar Appeal by partners across the region in their on-going advocacy and drug law reform efforts.


It is being hosted by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in partnership with the WADPN, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) and WACD.


Addressing participants at the opening of the workshop in Accra, yesterday, May 16, 2019, Mr Charles Vandyck, Head of Capacity Development, WACSI, stressed the need for drug law reform and a review of the current criminal justice system that governed drug control in the West Africa sub-region.


Mr Vandyck said a Model Drug Law was required to serve as a reference point for the WADPN and for use to support governments in reforming drug laws.


He was, therefore, happy to announce that WACD in September 2018, had launched the first-ever regional Model Drug Law to provide a template with legal provisions that countries could adopt to reform their drug laws.


He expressed the hope that the Model Drug Law would champion and strengthen WADPN in its advocacy work in the West Africa sub-region.


Mr Vandyck noted that understanding, disseminating and promoting the Model Drug Law as a tool for promoting change at the national level was critical to drug law reform in West Africa and described the workshop as the beginning of renewed drug law reform efforts.


In a statement, Barbara Goedde of the Global Commission on Drug Policy challenged the prohibitionist approaches of existing drug laws and interpretations of International Drug Conventions.


Ms Goedde urged governments of the sub-region to follow international debates towards more proportionate, evidence-based and human policy responses to drug control.


In her remarks, Ms Christine Kafando, Commissioner, WACD, noted that given the global disposition towards a more progressive and evidence-based policies to address the unintended consequences of the drug laws of the sub-region, and in the light of the recommendations of WACD’s flagship report from 2014 Not Just in Transit, the WACD Model Drug Law had the potential to be a pivotal resource for the West Africa sub-region.


Ms Kafando also underscored the relevance of the Dakar Appeal―a Declaration at the launch of the Model Drug Law in Dakar, Senegal, which called for humane drug policies and responses to drug control, including harm reduction, in West Africa―to the drug law reform efforts.


Source: G.D. Zaney, Esq.

Created: 17 May 2019
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