SENEGAL : UNODC supports reform of the legal framework against drugs

This activity was funded by the European Union

March 9, 2018- West Africa is hit hard by the scourge of drug trafficking and the growing influence of criminal networks. Such a situation causes vulnerabilities that particularly affect the youth, exposing them to serious harm. In recent years, new threats have aggravated this scourge with the arrival of  Amphetamine-type synthetic drugs.

As part of the ECOWAS Action Plan on Drugs 2016-2020, the adaptation of legal instruments to the threats facing the countries of the region is a regional issue. Indeed, the reform of the legal and institutional framework, in favor of a "public health" approach that is more respectful of the user, and a more efficient repressive arsenal against criminal networks, will make it possible to take an important step.

To this end, UNODC, in collaboration with the Interministerial Committee on Drug Control (CILD), organized a workshop to strengthen the legal and regulatory framework for the fight against drugs, from 5 to 9 March 2018, in Saly, Senegal.  The workshop was held as part of the Project " Support to ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on drug trafficking, organized crime and drug abuse in West Africa ",  funded by the European Union and implemented by UNODC.

The main objective of the workshop was to develop draft laws and regulations that contribute to strengthening the legal and institutional framework to combat drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

As soon as the work began, the twenty-three participants, including four women, opted for a pragmatic approach that resulted in concrete proposals to remove the legal obstacles relating to risk reduction, to the care of drugs users, the therapeutic injunction mechanism, drug users treatment in prisons, the establishment of the National Observatory on Drugs and Drug Addiction (OSDA), and the strengthening of coordination bodies.

According to General Diop, Head of CILD, "the reform of the law is the responsibility of the legislator, and the Council of Ministers of 13 July 2016, had clearly taken the option of reform, following the express instructions of the Head of the State. I hope the work meets the expectations expressed by the authorities."

According to Judge Abdoulaye Ba of the Ministry of Justice, " the legal framework must be reviewed in a smarter way, to give a second chance to young people used as drug mules but especially victims of big traffickers."


Workshop for the legal reform, Saly, Senegal, March 2018. ©UNODC 2018

Jullien Woirin, Program and Liaison Officer at UNODC, on behalf of Pierre Lapaque, Regional Representative, hailed "the commitment of the Senegalese authorities to a coherent national response, respecting the balanced and integrated approach advocated for nearly a decade by the international community.", while recognizing the coherence and national commitment symbolized by the  "presence at the workshop of the Ministries of Health, Justice, Education and the Interior."

During the five days workshop, participants reviewed the current texts and made suggestions for improvement on substantial elements. At the institutional level, it was recommended that CILD be attached to the Primature for more effectiveness so that it can fully play its cross-departmental role. Proposals have been made for the effectiveness of the mechanism of confiscation and management of criminal assets.

Other proposals addressed the modification of the legal framework related to the medical care of drug users, the creation of mental health units, the setting up of the medico-judicial unit for the effective functioning of the Therapeutic injunction mechanism, allowing the judge to subject dependent users to a health care treatment. Texts were also submitted to fill the legal gaps concerning ''Khat '' (a psychoactive plant) and new psychoactive substances.

At  the end of the workshop, draft texts was submitted to fill legal loopholes and reform bodies such as the CILD, the Central Office for the repression of the Illicit Traffic in Narcotics, and to set up the OSDA, have been developed. A general report of the workshop to be submitted to the various Senegalese authorities has been prepared and a steering committee to follow up on the recommendations has been set up.

UNODC has been providing technical assistance to West African States for 20 years, through its Regional Office for West and Central Africa (ROSEN) based in Dakar, Senegal and 11 others. local offices based in different countries of the region.

For more information:

UNODC action against drug trafficking in West Africa

Support Project to ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on illicit drug trafficking in West Africa