Today marks the twenty fourth year in which the international community is observing International Day Against Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to attain the objective of a global society free of drug abuse.
Despite continued and increased efforts by the international community, the world drug problem continues to pose a serious threat to public health, the safety and well being of humanity, in particular young people below twenty five years of age, the national security and sovereignty of States while undermining socio-economic and political stability and sustainable development.
In our own situation here in Jamaica we have witnessed the devastation of families by the addiction of members, gang and turf wars, the power gained by criminal enterprises from the illicit drug trade, the threat to economic life in particular contamination of export cargo, and government’s fiscal policy as well as the threat to governance.
In pursuance of efforts to minimize the incidents of drug abuse and drug trafficking while being part of the global strategies Jamaica has become a party to the three international drug control conventions as well as the international convention on transnational organized crime and its three supplementing protocols in addition to the convention on corruption.
The Ministries of National Security and Health have adopted measures to control abuse and trafficking. The Ministry of Health being responsible for demand reduction is responsible for the treatment of abusers and one of its agencies the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) attends to rehabilitation, and promotes a comprehensive community development programme as well as schools programmes.
The Ministry of National Security works to control supply and through the security forces has been responsible for among other things, the destruction of illegal marijuana cultivations as well as control of the ports and coastline to limit the inflow and outflow of marijuana and hard drugs and the interdiction of such substances. The Ministry has also been responsible for the development of several pieces of legislation inclusive of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Precursor Chemicals Act and the Suppression of Maritime Drug Trafficking Act. As we seek to tighten the screws on drug trafficking/criminal enterprises the government has introduced amendments to several pieces of legislation and will soon be bolstered by the Organized Crime/Anti- Gang Bill which are to be tabled in Parliament shortly.
The extent to which the drug problem is continuing is demonstrated by the fact that in 2010 the police arrested a record number of persons (in excess of 10,000) in Jamaica for breaches of the Dangerous Drug Act. The police are however committed to bringing a greater number of major players and their assets to book this year.
This year’s theme “Global action for healthy communities without drugs” aims to reinforce the role that communities play in addressing the drug challenges in society. It further highlights the fact that successful approaches in drug use prevention and treatment involve families, schools and communities to build on protective factors and stresses the need for communities to take action against drugs. It has to be recognized therefore, that the role played by the Ministry of Health and the NCDA in prevention, treatment, schools programmes and community development programmes and the Ministry of National Security’s crime prevention and community safety strategies are spot on and will yield the desired success in due course.
I want to thank our overseas partners in particular the Government of the United States of America for the assistance they have been giving Jamaica over the years. Equally, I want to thank all the multilateral organizations namely the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) and CARICOM for the tremendous support they have given the country in this area.