Sarjo Camara- Singateh

The Gambia, for the first time, is hosting an international anti-drug campaign that intends to support the Russian imitative to combat drug trafficking and production in the world at large. This meeting is a follow up to two ministerial meetings that were held in Russia in May 15, 2014 and April 23, 2015 respectively.

In delivering the opening statement, Mrs Isatou Njie-Saidy, the Vice President and Minister for Women’s Affairs, said it is only through dialogue amongst nation-states that results in agreements for sustained joint co-ordinated action that the world can rid itself of menaces such as drug trafficking and the use of drugs. This, she said, is because the drug cartels are well organized and coordinated and have no moral restraint in the pursuit of their ignoble objectives.

The Gambian Vice President said the illicit wealth the drug traffickers have gathered has given them the potential to destabilize political systems in many parts of the world.

“They can finance electoral processes, insurgencies, terrorism and organized crime to distort viable political systems. As a result, the trade in drugs could eventually destabilize through perpetrating decline in a nation’s business climate which could further result in decline in GDP growth, foreign exchange earnings and revenues, particularly in developing countries,” said VP Njie Saidy.

The Vice President said this scenario of economic dislocation through drug trafficking nurtures a high rate of heinous crimes such as homicides, suicides, rape, sexual assault, robbery, kidnapping and gambling, amongst others. She said that it also has severe social and health implications on users with disruptive effects on families and society. “It creates a cycle of dependency, distress, unproductiveness and insecurity; as well as a youthful population with a high rate of school drop outs, unskilled, unemployment and unproductive citizens, who then pose as a burden and liability to their families and to the society at large,” she added.

She noted that it is however quite re-assuring that the government of the Russian Federation has opted to enter into agreements with member states of the AU to co-operate in combating illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs.

“I said the thrust of such an agreement, being as it does, should be centered on organisation of effective counter-measures, cooperation in the areas of exchange of information and work experience, search activities and mutual assistance in actions to combat illicit trafficking. She highlighted that such collaborative actions should however be carried out in accordance with the laws of the parties as enshrined in the agreement, said VP Njie Saidy.

Mr. Ousman Sonko, the Minister of The Interior, said the Gambia’s position in the fight against drugs is still firm, adding that the menace of illicit drugs is a global problem that requires global response.

“This menace is a devastating and persisting phenomenon, which until today no one nation or continent can boasts to have eradicated,” he said.

Minister Sonko said the government of the Gambia being part of the international community is taking bold steps in the fight against the drug menace and other associated crimes. He said drug trafficking is capable or eroding among others, the peace and tranquility that prevails in any civilized community with no exception to any country.

For his part, Mr. Victor Ivanov, the Director of Russian Drug Control Service, said the input of Russia and African countries into the development of the new global anti drug policy is to be presented at the UN General Assembly special session on the world drug problem.

Mr. Ivanov said the African continent has been turned into a global transit drug bridge for two mega drug flows, or drugs traffics, a herion and from Afghanistan and a cocaine one from latin America. He said it is determined by the fact that for the past decade the cocaine traffic gradient has cardinally shifted from the North America route to the European one through West Africa and that furthermore the Afghan heroin traffic to Europe through the Horn of African region and Africa’s East coast has joined them and has built up.

The Director of Russian Drug Control Service said an attribute and indispensable component of those transit drug traffics is the generation of violence in its various forms, escalation of destructive phenomena and abnormal deformation of socio-political landscapes in transit countries. “Therefore, multiply-growing intensity of cocaine and heroin drug transit towards Africa has inevitably given rise to disorder and political instability in a number of African countries,” said Ivanov.

Earlier, the Special Representative of the African Union in Guinea-Bissau, Ovidio Pequeno, delivered the welcoming remarks, in which he noted that through concerted efforts the illicit drug trafficking, will be combated. He commended the organiser for this foresight initiative.

The conference was marked by delivery of statements from various African countries, showing of a documentary film on illicit drug trafficking, press conferences, signing of agreements and preparation of a declaration.