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Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite,??signed the??MOU this morning at his office in Wildey, St. Michael. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Barbados is on its way to establishing a Drug Treatment Court following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding today.

Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, signed the agreement along with acting Assistant Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), Angela Crowdy at the Office of the Attorney General, Webster’s Business Park, Wildey, St. Michael.

The signing ceremony was also witnessed by US Ambassador, Larry Palmer, Canadian High Commissioner, Richard Hanley, CICAD Specialist, Karen Adriana Sanjines and Organisation of American States Representative, Francis McBarnette.

Speaking during the signing, Mr. Brathwaite said there were some individuals who were unsure whether or not this was the direction in which Barbados should go. But, he stressed that he would continue to argue that the root cause of the criminality, be it drugs or poverty, must be treated.

"It is not enough for us to intervene at the end. We are not going to get it right if we just wait until persons go to [HMP] Dodds and then try to assist them. We need to treat the root cause," the Attorney General declared.

He added that last March, he had the opportunity to see a drug treatment court in operation overseas. "Out of that experience I came home with the clear vision that this was something that I thought as a country we should examine. If we could save one individual then our efforts would be worth it," Mr. Brathwaite said.

The Attorney General added that he was aware that the use of marijuana was an issue among Barbados’ young people, and noted that the court’s establishment was just part of the strategy to tackle the problem. "We [the Government] via the NCSA [National Council on Substance Abuse], and as a country have to look at what else we can do to save more of our young people," he said.

Thanking the OAS, CICAD and the governments of the United States and Canada, for their assistance over the last year in the effort to establish the court, Mr. Brathwaite noted that there was still some way to go.

He explained that efforts were still being made to ensure that there were treatment facilities, that any associated costs would be met, and that all the right personnel were in place. "Based on the discussion we have had I am satisfied that all the requisite players are engaged. I look forward to pressing the green light," he added.

Ms. Crowdy said the signing represented the closing of the negotiations phase, and the start of the implementation phase of the Drug Treatment Court programme for the Americas in Barbados.

"The OAS is fully committed to promoting judicially supervised treatment alternatives to incarceration for drug dependent offenders throughout the hemisphere," she noted, adding that Barbados was already part of the movement to find better ways to treat drug dependent offenders.

The CICAD official said that evidence showed that if the key principles of the Drug Treatment Court were followed, then better ways could be found to treat the drug problem in countries; prevent violence; promote citizenry security; reduce crime; improve neighbourhoods and communities, and reduce the risk of relapse into drug use.

She added that since the launch a large number of countries had joined the initiative for the Drug Treatment Court programme. These included Barbados, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, the US, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Panama.

"Barbados joins through this MOU a selective group of countries that have turned ideas into policies and practices," she stated.

Trinidad, Jamaica and Bermuda already have Drug Treatment Courts in operation.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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