Establishment of drug treatment court for later this year
A number of drug enforcement officials, judicial officers, and other stakeholders on Monday attended a specialised training workshop aimed at preparing them to aid in the efficient operation of the country’s first drug treatment court, which is expected to come on stream in the latter part of 2019.
Drug treatment courts worldwide take a more public health approach when dealing with drug-related cases and as such, local personnel within the respective systems will be exposed to both theory and practical techniques throughout the three-day activity, which will enable them to effectively interact with drug abusers.
This new addition to the court system will extensively aid in the rehabilitation process for persons who are addicted offenders. This is according to acting Chief Justice Roxane George, who was at the time presenting brief remarks at the opening ceremony.
“The reasons for having such a court are multi-dimensional, the anecdotal and empirical evidence strongly indicates that it has been and is a growing number of persons who interface with the criminal justice system in Guyana who are substance abusers … these courts and ours will follow the same model, allow for collaboration of a team of persons to support the offender in rehabilitation,” she explained.
The acting Chief Justice further added that the drug treatment programme would allow non-violent offenders, who pleaded guilty or have been found guilty of an offence, to voluntarily benefit from a variety of social services, as a substitute for imprisonment which, according to her, is not a positive response.
“International and regional experience has demonstrated that treatment of substance abusers is a better response than imprisonment … the drug treatment court is, therefore, another in this new frontier of courts that will focus on the individual that will ensure not only justice is served, but the support that is necessary to help them become or resume being productive law-abiding persons in our society,” Justice George stated.
Meanwhile, Organisation of the American States (OAS) Representative Jean Dormeus, in his brief remarks, applauded the local authorities for embarking on such a ground-breaking initiative.
Dormeus posited that the international expertise provided for the training would be of great benefit to the participants.
“For this week’s workshop, the Organisation of American States through [the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission ]CICAD has selected a fine blend of experts in the Region …, therefore, I trust that the practical sessions of this workshop will provide you with tips and techniques to make the drug treatment court a vibrant and successful experience in Guyana. This initiative will bring much to the Guyanese society; in this week’s workshop, I hope to see the same engagement and excitement that have been the hallmark of the whole process,” he noted.
It was revealed that the establishment of the drug treatment court will commence in the last quarter of 2019, as it will be situated in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts building with the goal of promoting public safety and the well-being of society.
The training exercise is made possible through a collaboration between the National Anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA); OAS and CICAD.