At a one-day community and security sector engagement on the influx of illegal drugs into the country, a senior officer at the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) on Friday, November 16, appealed to the National Legislature to make illegal drug offenses non-bailable.
Martin M. Tumoe, LDEA chief training officer said unless lawmakers amend the drug law to make it a non-bailable offense, the country runs the risk of failing in its fight against illegal drugs operations in the country.
Tumoe’s assertion was in response to criticisms at the community and security sector engagement under the theme, “Strengthening the Rule of Law in Liberia, Justice, and Security for the Liberian People.”
The gathering met at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, in Sinkor. It was organized by a non-governmental organization, Platform for Democracy and Peace.
Tumoe believes that for the government to strengthen the rule of law, especially against illegal drugs offenders, the crime must be non-bailable.
“If the lawmakers were to make drug offenses a non-baliable crime like rape, armed robbery and murder, it would help in the prosecution of people charged with drug offenses,” the chief of trainer told a gathering of community leaders and residents.
He maintained that the agency was committed to eradicate illegal drugs and their dealers throughout the country, “but, the crime is bailable, which poses a serious challenge to our efforts to prosecute offenders.”
According to Tumoe, since the crime is bailable, “we are finding it difficult to succeed in prosecuting those suspected of a drug offense whenever there is an arrest, because the accused’s lawyer would immediately file a criminal bond for their subsequent release by the court.”
“The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) charges the individual, but the court will release that person because their lawyer files a criminal bond so that they cannot go to jail to wait for their trial,” Tumoe said. Tumoe failed to say how many cases his agency has forwarded to court for prosecution in which those accused were released because their lawyers filed bonds to release them.
He meanwhile recommended to the communities to take up these issues with their lawmakers to ensure that an amendment is made on the drug law. “This will help every one of us to succeed in the fight against drug-related offenses,” Tumoe said.
Tumoe also called on the community to counsel people involved in illegal drug use. “This would also help us in minimizing the use of drugs in our country,” he said.