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Experts meet to validate the legal texts on ECOWAS drug action plan

Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne

The ECOWAS Drug Unit in pursuance of the implementation of relevant provisions of the Political Declaration and the Action Plan requested and received individual Country Reports from Legal Experts of all Member States.

To this end the unit organized a two- Day retreat for ECOWAS Commission to adopt a Draft Mapping Matrix of Member States Legal Texts on Drug Control and Related Crimes, based on the Country Reports.

The Draft Mapping Matrix and the Synthesized Regional Report will be validated by ECOWAS Internal Stakeholders. The validation is towards the development and publication of a Compendium of ECOWAS Legal texts on Drug Control and related Organised Crime.

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The Retreat will also make relevant recommendations for more effective regional cooperation based on the findings from the Country Reports which is expected to improve 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.

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.

This became necessary in order to foster effective cooperation amongst Member States in enforcement of drug laws and other related legislations.

The ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, 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 in order to ensure that none of our Member States is used as a safe haven or conduit by drug traffickers and organized criminal groups due to weaknesses in its legislation and enforcement”.

To this end, 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 relate crimes.

Also the West African Commission on drugs (WACD) was launched as a Drug Law to serve as a guide for drug legislations in West Africa. She added.

Dr. Abdullahi Shehu Former Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA)  facilitated the retreat and he was tasked with the analysis of the Country Reports, development of a Synthesized Report and as well serves as Rapporteurs at the Retreat. He provided deeper insight, in finalizing all the validated documents of the Retreat.

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