, OUR COMMUNITIES, OUR IDENTITIES WITHOUT DRUGS

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1 ADDRESS TO THE LIBERIA DRUF ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITY (LDEA) ON THE OCCASION OF THE OBSERVANCE OF INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST DRUG ABUSE AND ILLICIT TRAFFICKING ON FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 2015 BY: CLR. JAMES N. VERDIER JR Salutation; as necessary; gallant men and women of the LDEA, fellow citizens, ladies and gentlemen; I bring you greetings from the Body of Commissioners and staff of Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission; The fight against Drugs and illicit trafficking is closely linked to a global initiative against corruption. This is why the lead UN agency on Drugs and Crimes, UNODC has established an action group on Corruption and Economic Crimes. This has been supported by the launched of the web-based Anti-Corruption portal known as TRACK and is currently working on initiatives such as the stolen Asset Recovery and support to the Anti-Corruption Academy in Vienna, Austria. Individuals under drugs and substance abuse are most likely to be corrupt as their decision making abilities are unconsciously impaired and this results into no fear or little remorse in ravaging public resources for personal greed and satisfaction. Illicit drugs trafficking affect the dignity, safety, and well-being of all humanity. It undermines respect for human rights and the Rule of law, it challenges socioeconomic and political stability and deconstructs sustainable development that we strive for in Liberia. Research has confirmed that corrupt public officials have done a lot to undermine international drugs control efforts They even participate in the trafficking process. Intimidation and corruption are the most effective tools used by organized criminal groups to counter the drug control efforts of law enforcement agencies. Fellow Liberians, the deliberate intimidation and corruption of public officials are ultimately what empower criminal organizations, often placing these organizations beyond the reach of the law.

2 Nothing has more debilitating effect on efforts to curtail illicit drug trade than the successful attempts of criminal organizations to intimidate and corrupt public officials. International drug control efforts have also been undermined by numerous cases of corrupt officials who facilitate or participate in drug trafficking. Corruption is a harmful phenomenon that has a deep and detrimental effect on people, societies and social institutions. It is responsible for the disappointing results or outright failure in drugs control efforts. In fighting organized crime and stopping illicit drug trade, the police and you officers in the DEA and other criminal justice officials, have a difficult, dangerous, and an uphill task. You work tirelessly and courageously, but the odds are stacked against you when confronted by wealthy and powerful criminal organizations involved in drugs trafficking. The incapacity to fully ensure the protection of our borders, to prevent the exposure of our citizens from trading and consuming illicit drugs, and to enforce laws and uphold legal regimes is often the result of mistrust owing to corruption. According to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), many law enforcement and judicial officials find themselves confronted with difficult choices: to become victims of violence and possibly even lose their lives, or to sacrifice their integrity and become the accomplices of ruthless criminal. If you do choose to accept bribe for example, you are compromised forever. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, as we celebrate the International Drugs Day under the theme: LET S DEVELOP OUR LIVES, OUR COMMUNITIES, OUR IDENTITIES WITHOUT DRUGS, the world especially West Africa, and Liberia in particular, is facing an increasing challenge today as a result of escalating drug abuse and illicit trafficking. The Executive Director of UNODC in a statement marking the observance of this day in 2014 said, 200 thousand People died every year as a result of illicit drugs. Fellow Liberians, Africa is getting more at risk of illegal drugs than any other continent. Wealthy drug cartels in South America are using weak institutions in Africa to promote the illegal trade in drugs. A full scale movement of the drugs in

3 Africa is detrimental and might have consequences never seen in the world before. Some drug cartels are richer than some African governments. For example, the annual revenue of one cartel in South America could be bigger than the combined budget of the Liberian Drugs Enforcement Agency, Liberia National Police, Bureau of Immigration, National Security Agency and the Armed Forces of Liberia, AFL. A leading American Bank HSBC admitted in court pleadings in December 2012 that it had allowed big Mexican and Colombian drug cartels to launder atleast US$881million. In November of the same year, a congressional committee on oversight, Investigations and Management in the United States released a shocking report documenting collaborations between Mexican and Colombian drug cartels and Hezbollah in Narcotics and Human Trafficking, smuggling and financial crimes in the United States and Latin America. This partnership with bases and strongholds between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina produces an estimated $12billion in cash every year. With this information, the growth of drugs trade in Africa will be fast and sustained if nothing is done now. Drug cartels can easily take advantage of weak institutions and corrupt individuals in some countries just emerging from conflicts like Liberia. Chapter III of the 2014 report of the International Narcotics control Board (INCB) says parts of the African continent continue to Struggle to overcome the effects of armed conflicts, long-term instability and persistent threats to peace and security. The report further said deteriorating political situation in some African sub-regions has spurred increases in illegal drug trafficking, thereby worsening public health problem relating to drug use. The first paragraph of the INCB report also pointed to Liberia as seen an apparent rise in drugs trafficking in and out and this has led to increased concerns relating to National Security.

4 Drugs trade and trafficking has also worried many governments and countries in the world. The West Africa Commission on the impact of drugs on governance, Security & Development (WACD) has been formed by the Kofi Annan foundation in response to the dramatic surge in drug trafficking through West Africa. Ladies and Gentlemen, according to the UNODC, illegal drug trafficking is linked to criminal and terroristic activities. In Liberia, illegal drug trafficking is fueling increase local consumption. We need a coordinated approach on all fronts to battle this illicit trade in drugs. Liberia must strengthen her role in new continental initiatives to combat abuse of drug and illicit trafficking. Liberia must work with the African Union on a plan of Action on Drugs control and crime prevention developed for implementation from 2013 to This will guide the strategic framework for the development of a drugs policy. Liberia should also work towards the implementation of the African Common position on controlled substances and access to drugs for pain management, implementing continent-wide minimum quality standards for the treatment of drugs dependence among other. On the regional front, we applaud the work of ECOWAS in implementing its Regional Action Plan to address the Growing Problem of Illicit Drugs Trafficking. We look forward to a special Session of the United Nations coming in 2016 leading to the process of discussing the achievement of important milestones in goals set in the policy document of 2009 on finding a balanced approach to the world drug problem. I do agree with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in his Drug Day message this year of finding balanced approach to combating drug abuse. It is also time for UN member states to stand by numerous Conventions including, the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drug, the 1971 convention on Psychotropic Substances, the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. This must be supported by many resolutions including resolution 42/112 of December 7, 1987 setting aside this day as an expression of its

5 determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieving a drug free world. I urged you to remain strong and to resist the temptations to compromise your integrity and professionalism as you work to promote a generation of Liberians that will be free of drug abuse. To do this, you must commit yourself to vigorously man, monitor and secure our air, land and sea borders and prevent the flourishing of illicit drug trafficking trade in Liberia. I WISH YOU WELL IN YOUR CELEBRATION OF THIS INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST DRUG ABUSE AND ILLICIT TRAFFICKING AND I THANK YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE MY THOUGHTS.

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