According to the statistics from Gambia’s only mental health institution, Tanka Tanka, about 60% of their patients are suffering from drug related problems, said officials.
The Director General of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Alhaji Bakary Gassama, said his institution’s strive to ensure a drug-free Gambia is hindered by uncooperative attitudes of abusers who think that it is within their rights to abuse banned substances.
Gassama said the new found democracy has come with some misconceptions among abusers of drug in the country.
“… Some think that there should be no law enforcement agency…,” he said at the launch of a journalist association call Journalist Against Illicit Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime.
“It was a problem for all my staff to embark on their normal routine assignments because they fear that they could come under threat due to the violent nature of some of the youths.”
The association is initiated by Modou Kanteh, its chairman, who is a former executive member of the Gambia Press Union. Its goal is to train journalists and build a network among them to facilitate reporting on drug related issues.
Gassama also emphasized the importance of citizen participation in the fight against drug.
“Though the agency continue to make giant strides in combating illicit trafficking and organized crime, we are highly challenged on the drug demand and reduction front in relation to the open abuse of drugs… In this new political dispensation, many are confused about the true tenets and underlining principles of democracy and the rule of law…,” Gassama added.
“Law enforcement officers are usually confronted in the due execution of their duty by people who are ignorant of the law… Some feel that it is their rights to openly abuse drug… This Drug Control Act that we are enforcing is not drafted by any of us. It was passed by the people’s representatives in the National Assembly. Lives cannot be better when the Gambia is recognized as a narco state… It is everyone’s responsibility to support this institution.”
Meanwhile, Mustapha K Darboe, the vice president of the Gambia Press Union who was representing the president Sheriff Bojang Jr, highlighted the importance of the association.