24 May 2019

Liberia: Police Demand Stronger Drugs Law

The Liberia National Police (LNP) is urging lawmakers to legislate non-bailable and stronger laws against drugs trafficking and abuse here, warning of a risk of growing drugs addiction and criminality if government fails to take charge now.

Outgoing Deputy Police Inspector General for Operations Col. Robert Budy told a community policing forum Thursday, 23 May in Clara Town that drugs traffickers are using Liberia "as a transit point" for their drug trade due to the country's weak laws on drugs offenses.

"So Liberia is being used as a transit point; and when it gets here, our citizens use it and they get affected and at the end of the day they're on the street begging for something to eat. They ... [are] in the cemetery," he says.In some countries around the world Col. Budy observes that drug traffickers are executed "because drugs kill people."

But in Liberia, he also observes that if a drugs trafficker is caught with container of drugs, the trafficker is by law entitled to bond to secure his or her release.

Col. Budy who is nominated to head the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), warns further that in the next five to ten years "some of us might not be able to walk on Broad Street if the Government of Liberia does not take charge right now."

He indicates that there might be more zogoes in the years to come if "we are not careful."

Zogoe is an unofficial nomenclature identifying disadvantaged youths here or wayward folks in the Liberian society.

Hundreds of young Liberians in this category take in drugs, steal from people and sleep in the streets and in cemeteries as well.

Col. Budy explains that a lot of these drugs - affected victims come from good families, but they don't think like the rest of the people here "because they have been addicted or used to using drugs" so "their brains have been affected."

According to him, these guys sleep with the dead in the cemetery, but they don't realize that.

Additionally Col. Budy told students, young people, community leaders and motorcycle union task force partners to continue to work with the police in fighting against rape, sexual based violence and other crimes.

He warns students and young people against rape, noting that it is a non-bailable crime of statutory rape to be in a love affair with a person who is 17 years old or younger.

He also alarms against too much violence in Liberia, referencing instances of motorcyclists setting vehicles ablaze when there is an accident involving a car and a motorcycle instead of seeking proper redress.

According to Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Varney A. Sheriff, the community policing program is being supported by the Sweden counterparts based on request from the LNP to help enhance the institution's work.

In response to the police's request, ACP Sheriff says Sweden is helping financially and also enhancing the LNP's works in handling rape matters; general crimes investigation; forensic area; sexual gender - based violence; role of the police and prosecutors in processing cases for prosecution and public awareness.

The police authorities commanding Zone 10 have lauded a cordial relationship with other national security agencies including the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA).

Students, community leaders and the police's partners including the task force from the motorcycle union and community watch forum leaders have applauded the partnership with the police, urging that it continues.

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