Remarks by
Jean Ricot Dormeus, OAS Representative
Drug Treatment Court Workshop
Georgetown, July 29, 2019
Major General (retired) Michael Atherly, Director of the National Anti-Narcotics Agency of Guyana,
Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire,
Colleague Luis Suarez-Isaza of the OAS Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD),
Colleague Alexandra King Pile of the US Embassy,
Dignitaries of the Government,
Distinguished facilitators,
Distinguished participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,

 

It is a joy to take stock of progress and nearing the finish line in a groundbreaking initiative such as establishing a Drug Treatment Court. Just over a year ago, the prospect of having a Drug Treatment Court in Guyana appeared to be a figment of the imagination, a possibility. It took the vision, determination and perseverance of the Guyanese authorities to set this goal, work assiduously in unity and cooperation with various entities to go through different stages of the process and overcome challenges along the way. And today, here we are on the last lap of an exciting preparation journey, almost ready to offer more to those caught up in the drug abuse vortex.

I take pleasure in expressing gratitude to the people and Government of Guyana for embarking on such a journey. Major General Atherly and NANA staff, hats off for getting this inspiring project off the ground! Also I thank the Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Chief Justice Roxane George- Wiltshire for providing outstanding leadership to the process.

Because I have been part of the preparatory Executive Committee, I have observed first-hand the collective brainpower, energy and experience invested to land the Drug Treatment Court in reality. The efforts have cut through many institutions and sectors, including Public Health, Legal Affairs, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, CARICOM, Salvation Army and Phoenix, among others. This has been a perfect example of synergy at work. Congrats to all the stakeholders who have helped to steer a demanding and sophisticated exercise.

I would like to thank the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the U.S. State Department for funding alternatives to incarceration in Guyana, including DTC.

For this week workshop, the Organization of American States (OAS), through CICAD, has selected a fine blend of experts in the region, including Chief Counsel Michele Worobiec of TASC and Hon. Gregory Jackson, Senior Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Therefore, I trust that the practical sessions and role play exercises of this workshop will provide you with tips and techniques to make the Drug Treatment Court a vibrant and successful experience in Guyana.

The OAS has been working with Guyana on establishing a Drug Treatment Court taking decisive steps from February 2019. The organization has facilitated exposure to alternatives to incarceration to relevant Guyanese authorities, organized training workshops, conducted a gap analysis and showcased Guyana’s experience in the global setting.

This initiative will bring much to the Guyanese society. As we know, more than three and a half million people are in prisons in the western hemisphere. 1/3 of them for drug related offenses. Included in this particular situation are juveniles and women. Further, most of the drug related offenders are the chain’s weakest links with small roles in the broad world of narcotics. Some of them were also under the influence of substances when they committed offenses. Countries of the region such as Barbados and Jamaica have progressed in promoting alternative solutions to this problem, addressing the drug issue as a public health matter rather than a public security one.

The OAS Member states recognized in the Hemispheric Drug Strategy of 2010 the importance to address the drug problem in the Americas. In this regard, they purposed to strengthen and improve strategies and actions to reverse the trend and give the victims of drug abuse a second chance, so that they make their contribution to improving society.

In this week workshop, I hope to see the same engagement and excitement that have been the hallmark of the whole process. I wish you a fruitful training exercise.

Thank you and God bless you!

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