In just one day, Parliament on Friday passed a new National
Drugs Act. Among other things, the law seeks to set up a National Drug Law Enforcement Agency to be headed by an Executive Director appointed to be appointed by the President. Following is part of what the agency seeks to do.
The Agency shall provide leadership and coordinate all issues relating to drugs control, reducing drug abuse and the primary causes of drug abuse, illicit drug supply and drug-related crime. It shall also coordinate all drug-related regulatory enforcement and prosecution functions as well as developing and effectively implement the national drug control strategy.
The Agency shall also facilitate cooperation and the timely exchange of information between regulatory law enforcement, criminal justice, demand reduction, and scientific and technical agencies in Sierra Leone and abroad relating to drug and precursor control. It shall thus disseminate information on drug-related issues to the public and private sector agencies and organizations and the wider community through research and education.
The National Drug Law Agency shall also improve international cooperation against drug trafficking and precursor trafficking by land, sea and air and to also cooperate between the office of the Attorney General, the Sierra Leone Police, the National Revenue Authority, Immigration Department, Social Welfare Ministry, Health and Transport and prisons department.
Subject to the general or specific direction of the Attorney General, the Agency may take charge of the conduct of proceedings against any person in respect of any offence under the drug bill and institute and conduct proceedings before any court in Sierra Leone with a view to the restraint, confiscation or forfeiture of any property being the proceeds or instrumentality of any offence under the drug bill.
For the purpose of inquiring into and ascertaining whether property is the proceeds of or an instrumentality of an offence, the Agency may, by notice in writing, require any person to furnish it within such period and failure to comply, one commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 20 million Leones or an imprisonment not exceeding five years or both.
The Agency shall be assisted by an advisory council who shall consist of a chairman and six other members to be appointed by the President subject to the approval by Parliament.
By Ishmael Bayoh