Target: John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana & Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States
Goal: To help West African addicts recover instead of simply punishing them for using drugs
West Africa has always been a major producer and consumer of cannabis, but over the years cocaine and heroin have also found their way into the region via producers in Latin America and Asia. According to Reuters the rapid flow of these drugs into countries in West Africa has caused a dramatic increase in hard drug use, especially in young people. The region’s heads of state are currently working together to try and fix this problem.
According to a report published by the West Africa Commission on Drugs, previous “wars on drugs” have largely given wealthy producers and users a free pass while subjecting citizens living in poverty to severe and often counterproductive punishments. In addition to furthering inequality, wars on drugs do not focus on treating sick people but rather on stopping the flow of drugs into the country. Although this is not a bad goal, it is not the most efficient solution to the problem.
Ask the Economic Community of Western States (ECOWAS), a powerful peace-keeping and lawmaking force in the region, to encourage West African officials to focus on the human right to a decent quality of life while developing strategies to deal with drug trafficking and addiction.
Dear President Mahama,
Your organization is dedicated to the integration of trade in West Africa, as well as helping keep the peace between nations. Drug trafficking involves cross-border trade, requiring international cooperation in order to address the problem. ECOWAS is in a strong position to support these efforts. Although drug trafficking involves illegal rather than legal trading, the violence that comes with it directly threatens peace in the region. I ask you to use your organization’s influence to encourage positive policy changes.
You likely know that most previous wars on drugs have failed miserably, simply moving drug trafficking industries elsewhere or deeper underground without truly rehabilitating those suffering from addiction. Programs that emphasize punishing drug users over treatment and education tend to be ineffective in the long-term, and yet the violent crimes associated with drug trafficking are clearly impacting your citizens and others in the region.
It is time to put an end to declaring war on people who need our help. Please encourage your fellow heads of state to make the health of their citizens the top priority as they work to end the illegal drug trade.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Themadchopper via Wikipedia Commons