Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite (centre), shares a light moment with Secretary, Secretariat for Multidimensional Security (SMS) of the OAS, Ambassador Adam Blackwell (left) and OAS Representative in Barbados, Francis McBarnette, after the opening ceremony.
(C. Pitt/BGIS)

As the Caribbean continues to battle the illicit drug trade and rampant drug abuse, this country’s Attorney General has pledged Government’s ???full support’ in cooperating with private sector entities which provide drug treatment and rehabilitative services as part of efforts to combat illegal drugs.

Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, gave notice of his administration’s intention to work in tandem with such agencies as they continue to target "certain vulnerable groups within the community".

He was speaking today at the opening ceremony of the Organisation of American States/Inter-American Drug Abuse Commission’s (CICAD) First Regional Meeting – Caribbean Training and Certification Programme for Drug Prevention and Treatment Personnel.?? It was held in conjunction with the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) at the Almond Beach Village, in St. Peter.

Mr. Brathwaite told the gathering, which consisted of approximately 45 regional stakeholders, as well as 15 locally based practitioners who specialised in both prevention and treatment, that "we must continue to be relentless in our anti-drug efforts".

He further added: ??"It is imperative that we unite in our initiatives to save our sons and daughters, who will be the next generation of potential Caribbean leaders, professionals and workers, from the spectre of drug abuse and concomitant human wastage".

Emphasising that drug related problems were not exclusive to the Caribbean but global in nature, the Attorney General said the next three days of the training workshop were crucial as key representatives from 14 Caribbean countries would "carefully define the programme model and plan for the implementation of a region-wide Training and Certification Programme for persons who work in drug prevention and drug treatment".

Meanwhile, in his remarks, Secretary, Secretariat for Multidimensional Security (SMS) of the OAS, Ambassador Adam Blackwell, said: "it takes a network to beat a network" in order to tackle this transnational problem.?? Stating that drug abuse was not an isolated problem as it was directly related to violence and organised crime, the Ambassador underscored that our responses to crime and violence should be long-term actions to address their underlying causes.??

Stating "more prisons and longer jail sentences are not solving, and will not solve the problems", Mr. Blackwell cautioned "we cannot arrest our way out of crime.?? I am not suggesting we let hardened criminals go free but sending individuals with an illness to the best crime school – prison, is counterproductive," he concluded.??

In addition, Manager of the NCSA, Yolande Forde, lauded the initiative and partnership of the agencies and commented that the programme, which is already on stream in Mexico and Central America, will seek to ensure that eventually Caribbean people who work in the frontline of drug prevention and treatment receive standardised training and accredited qualifications in this field of occupation.

"It does not mean that those currently engaged in such work are incompetent… but in some cases they have nothing that verifies their competencies," the manager stated.

"…statistically illicit drug use is the single most significant correlate to criminal behaviour and imprisonment … the nexus between drugs and crime is unquestionable and this cannot go ignored on any level," she concluded.


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