NASSAU – Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage said Wednesday that the Bahamas is in the “critical stages” of establishing a Drug Treatment Court to provide an alternative to incarceration for drug-dependent offenders through treatment and rehabilitation.
Addressing the Inauguration Ceremony of the 60th Regular Session of the Inter-American Drug Abuse and Control Commission (CICAD), Dr Nottage said the Bahamas has embarked upon a series of initiatives focused on at-risk youth, including the establishment of Community Youth Centres that will provide healthy alternative services and programmes.
Dr Nottage said the focus is as a result of youth being “overwhelmingly represented as both victims and perpetrators of drug-related crime and violence locally.”
“Participating youth will receive training in hospitality, self-esteem building, motivational and personal development,” Dr Nottage said. “These centres will be a space where youth can have positive interactions and hopefully be dissuaded from using illicit drugs, joining gangs or engaging in conflict with the law.”
Dr Nottage told delegates that the Bahamas is “resolved” in its responses to the drug problem.
“The Bahamas is a willing and committed partner and confident that underpinning the discussions of this 60th Regular Session, the resolve is united to improve the effectiveness of our responses to the drug problem in the mutual interests of all Member States.
“It is our hope that ideas and experiences shared over the next three days will bolster our efforts in addressing the world drug problem.”
Dr Nottage also said the country has been on the “frontline” of drug control and reduction and has committed itself to “weakening illicit drug enterprises that exist around us regionally and globally” over the past four decades.
“Even though the Bahamas is not a major producer of illicit drugs, our country is strategically situated within the transshipment zone between markets in North America and Europe,” he said. “Due to our sparsely populated archipelago and vast water borders, transnational criminals continue to traffic drugs through our maritime borders and ports of entry.”
Dr Nottage said cocaine and marijuana – which he called the signature drugs produced in the region – are the principle drugs that are trafficked through the Bahamas.
“Some of the drugs that are moved through our country make their way on our streets and negatively impact our communities and the most vulnerable among us, in particular our youth.”
Dr Nottage said the programmes the government has implemented and will implement, will help to reverse those negative impacts on the country’s at-risk youth insofar as crime, criminality and violence are concerned.