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Trinidad and Tobago Launches First Drug Court

 

Trinidad and Tobago Comes Full Circle with a Pilot Project After a Year of Preparation 


 

Mr. Jack Warner, Trinidad and Tobago’s minister of national security, and OAS Assistant Secretary General Ramdin sign the agreement to set up and support a pilot court that will provide supervised treatment for drug dependent offenders.


Ambassador Ramdin and his assistant, Shelly Dass, listen to Chief Justice Ivor Archie explain details of the DTC initiative.

 

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, September 11, 2012

The first pilot Drug Treatment Court in Trinidad and Tobago was launched on Tuesday, September 11, one year after Chief Justice Ivor Archie announced the initiative to establish a multi-sector approach to dealing with drug dependent offenders in partnership with the Organization of American States.

The effort cut across multiple government sectors, enlisting broad institutional support, and pulled together a Steering Committee, comprising the Judiciary, the Magistracy, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Ministry of National Security, including the Police and the National Drug Council (NDC), the Ministry of Justice, including Probation Services, the Prisons Service, the Legal Unit and the Forensic Sciences Centre, and the Ministry of Health.

OAS Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin joined the Chief Justice and the ministers of National Security and Justice at the launching. The event was also witnessed by representatives of the participating government agencies, along with international supporters, Justice Kofi Barnes (Chair of the Canadian Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals, CADTCP), Ms. Beverly Reynolds (representing the CARICOM Secretariat), and Mr. Cyril Joseph, Acting High Commissioner of Canada to Trinidad and Tobago.

A more efficient response

In introducing the concept of drug treatment courts as an alternative to incarceration for drug dependent offenders last year, Chief Justice Archie noted that the experience in the Hemisphere and particularly in Jamaica had shown that the approach ultimately leads to a significant reduction in the number of repeat offenders, and a resultant decrease in the number of prisoners and persons appearing before the Courts.

According to the statistics of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, arrests for drug related offences exceed 5,000 annually, with implications for backlogs in the court system, cost of incarceration, recidivism, and public health. Drug Treatment Courts have proven successful in other countries (Jamaica, United States, Canada, Chile, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Australia, Belgium, Ireland, and the UK).

Throughout 2011 and 2012, Trinidad and Tobago has participated in various international activities (information and training workshops, exchanges of good practices), organized by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the OAS Secretariat for Multidimensional Security, as part of the OAS Drug Treatment Court Program for the Americas.

These activities were possible thanks to the financial support and other contributions of the Government of Canada through its Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP): judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, police and probation officers, treatment providers, as well as policy makers involved in this process, were able to observe, analyze, and study the model in various countries where the DTC is already operational.

Other organizations, like the CARICOM Secretariat, together with experts from Canada, the United States, and Jamaica, are also supporting the initiative.

The CICAD Executive Secretariat took this opportunity to meet with the Steering Committee to work out an action plan for 2012-2014, outlining the steps that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago will undertake to implement, monitor and evaluate the DTC project. A Memorandum of Understanding between Trinidad and Tobago and the OAS was signed by the Minister of National Security, Hon. Austin Jack Warner, and the OAS Assistant Secretary General, formalizing the mutual commitment to the project.

Government of Trinidad and Tobago

The Drug Treatment Court Pilot Programme:  Announcement of official launch, Chief Justice Archie's Speech at project launch, Photo Gallery, Government Briefing, Chief Justice Archie's Endorsement of DTC in September 2011, Pilot Project Project Summary, Chief Justice Archie's Address at DTC Workshop (October 18, 2011)

News articles

For more information about this initiative, contact E-mail address.


updated on 9/21/2012 3:12:02 PM