The Executive Director of the Perfector of Sentiments Foundation (POS), Mr Jonathan Osei Owusu, has appealed to the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to grant amnesty to non-violent drug users who have been convicted to be rehabilitated and returned home to their families.
According to him, such persons have problems with addictions, adding that the prison was not an option in the case, but they needed to be kept in rehabilitation centres where they could be treated and reformed.
“If such drug users in this case are non-violent and have not committed any crime then they are not a threat to society and so we appealing to the President to grant amnesty to them so that they can be treated and helped to overcome their addictions.”
Mr Owusu made the appeal at a training workshop for the media on Narcotics Control Commission Act 2020, Act 1019, that was organised by POS in partnership with the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) and West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN)-Ghana Chapter with support from Open Society Foundation.
The workshop held on the theme: “Understanding the Narcotics Control Commission Act 2020, Act 1019); The Role of the Media in Health and Right-based best practices to handling people who use drugs in the Implementation of the Act,” was intended to sensitise the media on the Act and the vital role they played with respect to the provisions of harm reduction to people who use drugs and sensitising the public on stipulations of the Act within the spirit intended.
Mr Owusu who was happy about the passage of the new Act in March 2020 and assented to by the President, said it represented an important example for the drug policy reform advocacy policy in West Africa.
“Ghana’s new drug law seeks to treat drug use and dependence on drugs as a public health issue rather than focusing on the law enforcement, incarceration, punishment and repression,” he said, adding that the law would enable the courts to give drug users alternatives by sentencing them to a rehabilitation centres supposed to be established by the government.
For his part, the Eastern Regional Commander of the Narcotic Control Commission, Mr Felix Yeboah Sarfo, revealed that per the new Act, the Commission intended to set up Drop Inn Centres across the country to facilitate availability and accessibility to treatment and rehabilitation, adding that per Section 22 of the Act, there was the need for establishment of the Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Rehabilitation Fund, which would be used to rehabilitate them.
He called for support from all stakeholders to help push the initiatives to help reform drug users into better persons in society.
FROM AMA TEKYIWAA AMPADU AGYEMAN, KOFORIDUA