Liberia: Women Protest Against Illicit Drugs in Sinoe

Several women from Draoh and Dugbe River in Karquekpo Community, Sinoe County, have protested against the sale of illicit drugs and their trafficking in their communities.

The protest, which began on August 24 and ended on August 26 of this year, was joined by the Youth, Chiefs, and elders, including local authorities, and the joint security in Karquekpo with the surrounding Towns and Villages.

The three day peaceful protest was intended to send out a message to those selling drugs in the community that the residents were tired of their act and were ready to kick out the drug activities in the community.

The protest action was derived by the community as a strategy to also prevent sexual gender- based violence as they believe that the illicit drug consumption is also a major contributing factor to the violence against women and girls in the community.

President George Weah of Recent signed into law the control of Drug and Substance Act of 2023, commonly called the Drug law.

The president carried out the landmark duty on July 12 after the drug bill was recently passed by the National Legislature following months of thoughtful introspections and deliberations.

The new law aims to regulate, restrict, control, limit, or eradicate the illegal export and importation as well as the flagrant use, abuse, and proliferation of narcotic substances within the bailiwick of Liberia.

The law also provides penalties for specified offenses such as the unlicensed and unauthorized importation of drugs or illicit substances into the country.

The law states that “When a person commits an offense purposely or knowingly imports into Liberia “any controlled drugs or substances without a license from the Government, the person shall be guilty of a felony of the first degree and punishable to a prison of a maximum of ten years and not exceeding twenty years consistent with provisions of the penal code 1, section 50.5 and 50.6.”

It is also noted that the offense shall be a grave offense and shall not be bailable.

The protest action was supported by Women Solidarity Incorporated (WOS) under its European Union – funded project “Enough Campaign” which has been implemented with support from OXFAM and the Foundation for Community Initiative (FCI).

(WOS) has been working with women and girls in the community since 2020 and providing them with awareness on sexual and gender- based violence, domestic violence, drug abuse, and training the community dwellers to speak out against violence and abuse as well as engaging the community on positive masculinity and norms.

Karquekpo community is considered as one of the dangerous areas for its drug activities, where young people terrorize and victimize peaceful citizens including women and girls at night and early morning hours with deadly weapons to take away their phones and cash and sexually abuse the women and girls.

Tanneh Slah, the Chairlady said the community has agreed to stop the selling of the illicit drugs in the community and will serve as its own security.

“The peaceful protest carried out today would help to reduce the criminal activities in our community and the surrounding Towns and Villages.” She said if those who are selling and trafficking the drugs are caught, we will turn them over to the Liberia National Police (LNP) for further investigation.

According to her, they have been outside for three days without eating and bathing because they are tired of suffering at the hands of the drug sellers.

“We are serious and want the people to know that we are ready to kick drugs out of our community.” She said  

Catherine Nyea, WOS project officer of the Enough Project, said they are working in the four communities through multi- community driven approaches and they are gradually succeeding.

“The women want to eliminate drugs from their community because they believe it is responsible for violence against women and girls and domestic violence.” She said our organization is working with several communities to make sure that SGBV is reduced or eliminated.

She also urged the women to work collectively to make sure their communities are free from SGBV and drugs.