Experts Meet to Validate Legal Texts on ECOWAS Drug Action Plan

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ABUJA – (ECOWAS Secretariat Report) – The ECOWAS Drug Unit in pursuance of the implementation of relevant provisions of the Political Declaration and Action Plan has requested and received individual country reports from the legal experts of all Member States.

This was revealed in a report issued from the ECOWAS Communication Division recently, stating that the Unit has organized a two-day retreat for the ECOWAS Commission to develop a Draft Mapping Matrix of Member States Legal Texts on Drug Control and Related Crimes based on the country reports.

According to the report, the Draft Mapping Matrix and Synthesized Regional Report will be validated by ECOWAS Internal Stakeholders. It explained that the validation is towards the development and publication of a Compendium of ECOWAS Legal Texts on Drug Control and Related Organised Crimes.

“The Retreat will also make relevant recommendations for more effective regional cooperation based on the findings from the country reports expected to improve the legal framework of Member States towards better implementation of National and Regional Drug Control Action Plans. We may recall that the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in 2008 adopted a Political Declaration on the Prevention of Drug Abuse, Illicit Drug Trafficking and Organized Crimes in West Africa which gave rise to the development of ECOWAS Drug Action Plan to Address Illicit Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime and Drug Abuse in West Africa,” the report said.

“Subsequently, the ECOWAS Authority directed the Commission to take appropriate actions for the development of an ECOWAS Convention Against Illicit Drug Trafficking and Abuse and demanded for the harmonization of ECOWAS legal instruments into a single and updated Regional Protocol on Drug Control and Prevention of Organized Crime.”

The report further espoused that this became necessary, in order to foster effective cooperation amongst Member States in the enforcement of drug laws and other related legislations.

The ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Siga Fatima Jagne (Dr) in her welcome address stressed the need for ECOWAS countries to develop a regional legal framework to tackle drug trafficking and harmonize the laws against drug trafficking within Member States. Adding, this will ensure that none of the Member States are used as safe haven or conduit by drug traffickers and organized criminal groups, due to weaknesses in its legislation and enforcement.

Siga Jagne hinted that as part of the implementation of the ECOWAS Action Plan to Address Illicit Drug Trafficking, Organized Crimes and Drug Abuse in West Africa (2016-2020), individual country reports covering all ECOWAS Member States drug legal instruments have been drafted by legal experts across the region.

“The Commission has prepared a Draft Mapping Matrix of ECOWAS Member States’ Legal Instruments and Institutional Frameworks on Drug Control and Related Crimes. Also, the West African Commission on Drugs (WACD) has been launched as a Drug Law to serve as guide for drug legislations in West Africa,” she emphasized.

The former Director – General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), Abdullahi Shehu (Dr), who facilitated the retreat was tasked with analysing the country reports, developing a synthesized report therefore and serving as rapporteur at the retreat. In his analysis, he provided deep insights into all the validated documents of the retreat.