Mauritius: Unity and collaboration in our actions are crucial to tackling the drug scourge in the region, and this Conference on Substance Abuse for Countries of the Western Indian Ocean Region provides an adequate platform for stakeholders to share knowledge and strengthen cooperation between countries.
The Prime Minister, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, made this statement today at the Sir Harilal Vaghjee Memorial Hall in Port Louis during the opening ceremony of the three-day Conference on Substance Abuse for Countries of the Western Indian Ocean Region.
The Vie-Prime Minister, Minister of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun; the Minister of Land Transport and Light Rail, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Alan Ganoo; Ministers; the Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), Vêlayoudom Marimoutou; Members of the Diplomatic Corps; and other personalities were also present at the event.
In his address, Prime Minister Jugnauth highlighted that this Conference should develop the necessary frameworks and strategies for a coordinated response to the drug scourge. This platform, he stated, should also help to establish networks for information sharing, as the availability of data related to drug trafficking is an essential prerequisite in the fight against the drug trade. He thus exhorted participants to look at all the potential areas for further collaboration and knowledge sharing.
The Prime Minister remarked that the presence of participants from various countries bears testimony to their respective governments’ commitment to tackle the drug issue. The illicit substance business, he pointed out, transcends all boundaries and countries of the region need to strengthen their collaboration to be more effective in combatting drug trafficking.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Jugnauth stressed that to deal effectively with the drug issue, each of us has a role to play, from Government Officials, law enforcement agencies and Health personnel to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the public at large. He reiterated that Government is committed to eradicating the menace of drugs and will ensure that the right policies are formulated and appropriate strategies implemented.
Moreover, he emphasised, he has developed a system of neighbourhood watch so as to prevent the occurrence of illegal activities within the community and it would be desirable that a regional neighbourhood watch be implemented for countries of the Western Indian Ocean region. He also seized this opportunity to provide details on the role of the National Drug and HIV Council, the National Drug Secretariat, and the Drug Users Administrative Panel, while reminding that the National Drug Observatory is fully operational.
As for Minister Ganoo, he highlighted that Mauritius was the first country in Africa to come forward with harm reduction programmes, namely the methadone substitution therapy and the needle exchange programme. He also recalled that the Dangerous Drugs Act has been amended to consolidate the country’s legal framework as far as drug abuse is concerned.
For his part, Mr Marimoutou outlined that the IOC is fully committed towards its Member States and other countries in the region who believe in the relevance of regional mechanisms in the fight against drug trafficking. The strategy to be adopted spans over the long-term, with the implementation of an appropriate, autonomous, and scalable sustainable cooperation mechanism to create deterrence against drug trafficking in the region, he added.
About the Conference
This three-day event sees the participation of some 100 delegates from France-Reunion, Union of Comoros, Madagascar, Seychelles, South Africa, Djibouti, Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Some local partners and NGOs are also be onboard.
This Forum will give opportunities to these islands/countries to hold consultations and share experiences with focus on the specificities common to them and to enable them respond to the different aspects of the drug issue in a collaborative manner.
The objectives of the Conference are, amongst others, to: discuss and assess the drug situation and drug dependence in the countries of the regions; reflect on drug related cross cutting issues including all strategies namely, supply reduction, harm reduction as well as demand reduction; set up a system to strengthen sharing of information and intelligence through a formal network to combat drug trafficking in the region; review measures used in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation and to identify the most practical approaches to treatment and rehabilitation; and identify and review practical approaches to manpower development.