Caricom help needed to set up drug courts –T&T CJ

(Trinidad Guardian) In an attempt to rehabilitate minor, non-violent substance abusers across the region, Chief Justice Ivor Archie is looking to Caricom to support a Caribbean Drug Treatment Court Association.

This is to establish Drug Treatment Courts (DTC), similar to the pilot project introduced in 2002 and which has recorded successes in transforming the lives of over 12 young people to date.

Chief Justice Ivor Archie, left, presents graduate Wazeed Mohammed with his certificate of appreciation at Wednesday’s ceremony at Prive restaurant, San Fernando.
Chief Justice Ivor Archie, left, presents graduate Wazeed Mohammed with his certificate of appreciation at Wednesday’s ceremony at Prive restaurant, San Fernando.

At the DTC’s second graduation exercise in San Fernando on Wednesday for six of the students, Archie said while he did not condone the use of those harmful substances, other options must be explored to assist people who were suffering from the disease of addiction. The function took place at Prive restaurant, San Fernando. “I have often expressed my deep concern for the number of persons who come before the court for minor drug related offences,” he added.

He said in supporting the establishment for solution-focused courts, the Judiciary was committed to ensure a reduction in the number of repeat offenders on minor drug-related charges, including crimes of acquisition and the opportunity to return a greater number of individuals to health and overall well being.

“I therefore urge all magistrates to use this project as a critical resource to help those vulnerable persons who appear before you,” he added.

Archie said he had an opportunity to speak in support of alternatives to incarceration at the Commission on Narcotics Drugs in Vienna, which is the premier international decision-making forum for drug control.

At that meeting, he said, what was driven home was the growing acceptance in the international community for innovative approaches to address the drug problem.

“While no one condones the use of substances which are harmful to one’s health, it is no longer a matter of debate whether we must explore options which do not criminalise those persons who are suffering from the disease of addiction,” he added.

He said with the successes recorded locally, the Judiciary of T&T was committed to support the implementation of those DTC courts, both locally and regionally.

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