Remarks by
Jean Ricot Dormeus,
OAS Representative
Launch of the Drug Treatment Court
October 21, 2019

Honorable Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan,
Honorable Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams,
Honorable Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Yonette Cummings Edward,
Honorable Chief Justice Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire,
Her Worship Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan,
Director of Public Prosecutions Mrs. Shalimar Ali-Hack,
Major General Retd Michael Atherly,
Other Dignitaries of the Judiciary and the Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

October 21, 2019 will go down in the history of Guyana as the day of new beginnings. We are launching the Drug Treatment Court to bring hope to many victims of drug abuse and numerous families in Guyana. We are culminating a painstaking process of regional cooperation, training and coordinating. We are giving birth to a new structure that will contribute to optimize the distribution of justice and improve peace and security in our society. So it is with delight that I join you this morning in this auspicious event.

The Organization of American States (OAS) and its agency CICAD take pleasure in sharing Drug Treatment Court best practices in the region. You are going to watch a video message from the Executive Secretary of CICAD, Ambassador Adam Namm. It is really a day of celebration. More than that, the benefits of establishing a Drug Treatment Court serve all the four pillars of the OAS, from the promotion of human rights to strengthening democracy, from enhancing multidimensional security to achieving integral development.

I would like to salute the vision of the Government and people of Guyana on this special occasion. Because I sit on the Executive Committee driving the DTC process, I have witnessed firsthand the leadership and determination displayed by the stakeholders, in particular Justice Yonette Cummings Edward, Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire, Her Worship Ann McLennan and Major General Rtd Michael Atherly and their teams. Thank you Ministers Ramjattan and Williams for accompanying the process. I also express my gratitude to Beverly Reynolds of CARICOM for her support.

All of you have contributed directly or indirectly to the journey of setting up Guyana’s Drug Treatment Court. This journey has gone through numerous stages and operations, including:
acquainting stakeholders with the model while a drug treatment court is in session in different states of the US,
disclosing the intricacies of the model with former judges and court officers from the US, Canada and the Caribbean holding talks with stakeholders in Guyana,
Networking,
Training workshops using practical documents,
Mock sessions.

A few days ago, the Guyana Prisons Service celebrated its 136th anniversary and Director Gladwin Samuels delivered remarks stressing that punishment without rehabilitation leads to hopelessness. I discussed the topic with Director Samuels last week Tuesday and he referred to several rehabilitation success stories, including a man I had a chance to meet afterwards. He was deported from Canada, went through a heartrending lifestyle in Guyana, served jail time. He has been rehabilitated and is currently supporting the Ministry of Health and Alcoholics Anonymous Guyana. Can we achieve rehabilitation? Of course.

The same Tuesday, I got inspired by a great Guyanese lady, Rita Young, the CEO of Phoenix Rehabilitation Project. As I was visiting the facilities, I met Daisy, a church woman who fell into the grips of addiction. As a result, her family became dysfunctional and she engaged in a marginal junkie life for 17 years, even sleeping on the tombs of Le Repentir Cemetery. After an old friend who would not give up on her took her to Phoenix, she got rehabilitated and is now helping others to get their lives back. Can we achieve rehabilitation? Certainly.

I also had an uplifting conversation with Osberg, holder of a Masters Degree. He taught in US higher learning centers, worked on Wall Street and formed a beautiful family of 4 children. Osberg fell into the trap of addiction, was deported to Guyana and led a junkie life for many years. His sister signed him up for rehabilitation. After a long struggle and several relapses, he got rehabilitated. Now he is coaching addicts how to overcome their plight and become again worthy members of society. Can we achieve rehabilitation? You bet.

Osberg is Aubrey and he will present you with a cultural item shortly.

Finally, Major Ulrick Thibaud of the Salvation Army Men’s program recounted the satisfaction he experienced seeing people coming out of the hell of addiction. Can we achieve rehabilitation? Absolutely.

We have so many reasons to rejoice as Guyana joins other countries in the Caribbean such as Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, St Lucia and the Bahamas in adopting the Drug Treatment Court model. Imagine how many apparently lost cases we can bring back to a vibrant life thanks to the operations of the DTC. Imagine how many families we can help restore thanks to the operations of the DTC. Imagine how much more productive our society can become thanks to the operations of the DTC.

A few weeks ago, after a meeting of the Executive Committee, Her Worship Ann McLennan gave the participants a tour of the facilities for hosting the DTC. The caterpillar we saw that day has become the attractive butterfly we are enjoying today. Indeed this renovation alone speak volumes about the engagement of the Guyanese authorities and bodes well for the effectiveness and sustainability of the DTC.

The sterling achievement we are ushering in Guyana today is born of fraternity, vision and determination. When we love each other, when we see the stars beyond the clouds, when even the storm cannot stop us, then transformation and miracles happen. The establishment of the Drug Treatment Court in Guyana is definitely a significant step for the judiciary, but it is such a giant leap for society, in particular the victims of drug abuse. The OAS will always stand by its member states to bring value and positive impact to the citizens of our region.

Thank you and God bless you!

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