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Sierra Leone: New Drug Control Law Passed

(Aug. 28, 2008) It was reported on August 2, 2008, that the National Drugs Act of 2008, drafted with the help of the U.N. Office of Drug Control, passed Sierra Leone's legislature with the overwhelming support of the MPs. The law, the draft of which was tabled in Parliament under a “certificate of urgency” signed by Sierra Leone's President, appears to have been necessitated by a July 13, 2008, incident in which a South American aircraft filled with cocaine landed in a Sierra Leonean airport, serving as a wake-up call that current laws were out of date. (Parliament Approves National Drug Control Act 2008, AFP, Aug. 2, 2008, Open Source Center No. AFP20080804552008.)

The new Act, which replaces the Dangerous Drugs Act, provides a legal framework for imposing harsh penalties on drug-related crimes. It prescribes mandatory imprisonment of not less than five years for possession and use of “hard drugs.” The Act imposes rather serious penalties on illegal drug makers and traffickers. Life imprisonment is the punishment for “importing, exporting, transshipping, or transmitting” drugs. The possession of cocaine and heroin-making materials is punished with a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. The Act also prescribes harsh punishments for money laundering and acquisition of property from proceeds of drug-related dealings.