May 5, 2009, 7:15 AM
The Senior Policy and Operations Manager of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), Jamie Bridge has said that drug users and addicts deserve to be helped and supported instead of being punished and isolated.
Speaking during Wednesday’s opening ceremony of a two-day Media Workshop on Drug Policy in West Africa held in the Ghanaian capital Accra, Mr. Bridge said the objective of the workshop was to encourage an open and frank debate on the problems inherent in drug abuse.
He added that it is much more beneficial to help and support drug users and addicts than to punish them and lebel them as criminals.
Bridge described drug abuse as being a public health problem and that victims should be rehabilitated rather than incarcerated as criminals.
In her statement, the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), Ms Nana Asantewa Afadzinu argued that treating drug users as criminals instead of supporting them as wrong and counterproductive.
She said the objectives of WACSI include helping to strengthen civil society groups to confront the negative impact of drug use on the society.
Speaking on organized crime, Peter Tinti of the Global Initiative Against Trans-national Organised Crime said there is need for networking between journalists and civil society groups to fight such phenomenon.
The workshop is being jointly organized by the West Africa Commission on Drugs (WACD) and the IDPC, in collaboration with USAID, WACSI and the Kofi Annan Foundation.