BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, (CMC) – Regional drug stakeholders will meet here later this month to discuss efforts aimed at strengthening the institutional response to crime and security in the Caribbean.
The Guyana-based Caribbean Forum of States (CARIFORUM) Secretariat says that the meetings will take place between February 19-23 amid concerns that the Caribbean has been described as a critical and central route between drug producers and large-scale consumers, with violence and crime remaining a pressing problem.
The first meeting on February 19 will be attended by the directors of National Drug Councils, who will review, revise and update the 2007 Regional Drug Demand Reduction Strategy.
The two-day meeting will provide for the delegates to be sensitised on the capacity-building strategy for Drug Demand Reduction, focusing especially on the on-line training being implemented by the Cooperation Programme on Drugs Policies (COPOLAD) in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“In the course of this meeting, they will also be sensitised on the public health approach for the design and implementation of drug policies, as well the health and social effects of non-medical cannabis use,” CARIFORUM noted in a statement.
It said subsequent to the meeting, directors will also meet from February 21-23 for a regional workshop on the design and implementation of national drug strategies and plans for the Caribbean.
“This meeting, convened by the CARICOM and CICAD Secretariats, is being held in light of the fact that while some member states have developed national drug strategies and supporting action plans, many still lack these crucial documents, while the strategies of others are about to expire. “
The organisers said that a major objective of this workshop is to update the current strategies in the Caribbean, and/or to support their design and development, where needed, through technical assistance and the promotion of horizontal cooperation.
These events are part of a series of actions being taken in the implementation of the Drug Demand Reduction Component of the Crime and Security Programme.
Earlier this month, representatives benefitted from a one-day technical meeting on the Seventh Round of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM) process. In addition, senior policy makers and technical staff from a number of line ministries in St. Vincent and the Grenadines benefited from two days of intense training on the establishment of its National Drug Council and on the implementation of the MEM.
Institutional Strengthening is at the heart of the CARIFORUM/EU Crime and Security Cooperation Programme under the Tenth European Development Fund (10th EDF).
The Euro 12 million (One Euro=US$1.29 cents) programme focuses on reducing the demand for, and dependence on, illicit drugs, advancing the thrust towards drug supply control initiatives with enhanced coordination and dialogue with Latin America, and addressing some of the critical factors for crime and violence prevention and social development in CARIFORUM.