February 13, 2014
THE Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) in collaboration with the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), yesterday, concluded a two-day seminar on the implementation of a standardised data collection system for Drug and Alcohol Treatment agencies in the Caribbean.Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee opened the seminar on Wednesday at the Guyana Police Officers’ Training Centre at Camp and Young Streets, Georgetown.
In his opening remarks, Rohee said that too often data collection is sporadic or is done in a disorganised manner and cannot be relied on. However, he emphasized that at all times it must be verified because at the end of the day there are institutions and international organisations that rely on this data for decision-making and policy formulation.
Minister Rohee stated that representatives of more than six CARICOM countries would have been attending the meeting in Guyana to share details, and called for more coordination of data collection in this region and that systems should be in place to facilitate this.
He also stated that the data collection exercise must take into consideration certain national peculiarities, since, what may be relevant in one country, will not be in another, but this should be standardised for common use at the policy making level.
The minister said that ‘romancing of narcotics’ has its own dangers. “We need to keep the interest of young people of our country or the future generation, at all times because whatever we do now in this social problem will have a serious impact on the thinking of our young people.” He added that, “if as we say young people are our future we must choose the correct path in this subject.”
Meanwhile, former Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Major General (ret’d) Michael Atherley, who is Head of the Task Force on Narcotic Drugs and Illicit Weapons in the Ministry of Home Affairs, in giving a brief overview, pointed to the changing economic climate in the Caribbean and further afield against the background of the increasing availability of drugs and the global drug abuse problem and its associated ills.
Atherley said that here in the Caribbean “we are hit hard by the recent fallout of violent crimes, and a regional report by the International Narcotics Control Board of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has indicated that Latin America and the Caribbean region have among the highest crime rate of any region in the world.”
He noted that the complexity of the problem has been compounded by changing patterns of drug abuse, supply and trafficking. “There has also been an increase in the social and economic factors which make young people more vulnerable and likely to engage in drug use and drug related risk taking behavior”, he added.
Atherley said, however, that extensive efforts have been and continue to be made to suppress the illicit production, use and trafficking of drugs.
He pointed out that judging from past experiences of law enforcement efforts targeting the supply and control of narcotics, it now seems that the most effective approach clearly consists of comprehensive, balanced and coordinated approaches – encompassing supply, control and demand reduction re-enforcing each other, together with the appropriate application of the principles of shared responsibility. In addition, there is now a need to intensify efforts at demand reduction and to provide adequate resources towards this end.
PUBLIC HEALTH SECTOR
It is significant and satisfying, Atherley said, that so many of the participants at the seminar represent the public health sector and so programmes for the reduced demand for drugs should feature more prominently as part of comprehensive strategies to reduce all substance abuse.
OAS Representative Designate, Mr. Jean Ricot-Dormeus of Haiti said he was pleased to be a part of the important sub-regional seminar of CICAD, the first of its kind in Guyana in a long time.
He also highlighted the involvement of the OAS and Guyana in hosting this seminar and congratulated Home Affairs Minister Rohee for endorsing the seminar along with the support from his ministry.
Jean Ricot-Dormeus also pledged his support in working with Guyana during his stint here as the OAS representative and thanked the Canadian government for their support. He observed that the seminar benefits Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname and next month another workshop will be held in The Bahamas for the region.
Jean Ricot-Dormeus explained that the seminar is about sharing best practices and building capacity and developing effective procedures for strengthening security and fostering development.
Written By Michel Outridge