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20.03.2009 General News

Drug trafficking, threat to Ghana's stability

Drug trafficking, threat to Ghana's stability

A member of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Dr J. B. Asare, says drug trafficking poses a serious threat to Ghana's stability, and has warned of contract killings should the country not take drug control seriously.

"Bribery and corruption of law enforcement agencies, extending to the judiciary, will undermine the rule of law and make the country ungovernable, leading to political instability," he said.

Dr Asare, who is also a consultant psychiatrist, was speaking on the topic, "Ghana: From trafficking to consumption", at the Government of Ghana-United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC)-organised conference on "Ghana against drugs and crimes" in Accra.

The conference was to discuss and raise awareness of illicit drug trafficking as a threat to Ghana's national security.

Dr Asare further warned that gang warfare and other conflicts, money laundering, increase in organised crimes and terrorism were expected to escalate "if we do not put our heads together to stop or reduce this menace".

He expressed regret that the political will for drug control activities in the country had not manifested itself in the provision of adequate financial investment for drug control activities, while human resource development had also received minimal attention.

He added his voice to calls for the Narcotics Control Board to be made autonomous, while the law establishing it was revised to take account of the various UN conventions.

"The board should be backed by law to be able to generate money from fines and proceeds from confiscated assets," he said.

Dr Asare also called on the government not to compromise the character of the board, which should be composed based on institutional representation, while all workers in the drug control field were screened to attract and retain honest, disciplined and dedicated people who should be adequately rewarded.

He said although the extent of drug abuse in the country was not known, the use of drugs in Ghana was mainly associated with the youth.

For his part, the Head of the Conflict Prevention, Management & Resolution Department of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Dr Kwesi Aning, said the activities of drug dealers were eroding the reputation of Ghana as a functional state.

"Perceived to have been extensively penetrated by drug money, law enforcement officers perceive many Ghanaian politicians as being interested in the drug trade, while the booming real estate business is allegedly financed by some of these proceeds. Drug refining and resale is also taking place in Ghana with the importation of precursor chemicals from South Africa," he said.

He noted that efforts to fight the drug menace were being impeded because the security agencies did not have the skills and resources to investigate those behind the importation and re-export of the drugs and their level of influence on the consuming market.

According to him, the judiciary had also in no small way thwarted the zeal and ability of the security agencies to combat drug trafficking.

"It is increasingly becoming clear that particular judges give particular judgments in drug cases that are beginning to show a pattern. While previously this was explained as due to the technicalities of the law, it is now clear that judgements by some members of the judiciary are more than suspicious ...," he said.

Dr Aning stressed the need for the government to address the problem of youth unemployment, saying that because of the "massive youth unemployment rate, a vast reserve of potentially recruitable youth is readily available".