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(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Saint Lucia Minister of Home Affairs and International Security, Senator Guy Mayers has reiterated the importance of collaborative efforts in stemming what he described as the “scourge of illicit drug trafficking within the region.”

Senator Mayers told directors of national drug councils, law enforcement representatives, civic and non-governmental organisations and youth representatives and other stakeholders at a sub-regional workshop on Wednesday that the problem of illicit trafficking was not just a law enforcement problem, but a social multi-sectoral problem which required a multi-disciplinary solution.

The two-day workshop which opened on Thursday in Saint Lucia is organised by the CARICOM Secretariat with support from the European Commission’s 9th EDF programme. It seeks, as its primary objective, to develop for Eastern Caribbean States, a behaviour change communication campaign to target illicit drug traffickers.

The Saint Lucia security minister spoke to the challenge faced by law enforcement officers in curtailing the increasing drug trade, pointing to the vulnerable position of the region being a transhipment point flanked between the suppliers in the south and buyers in the North.

He added that the unique terrain and “porous borders’ of many Caribbean countries also created safe havens and drop-off points for traffickers, thus making policing even more challenging. These challenges, he said, required the Caribbean to pool resources and to share intelligence and information.

He stressed the need for the region to implement more preventive rather than punitive measures to curtail illicit drug trafficking, and welcomed the workshop as useful in building capacity of stakeholders in designing effective communication programmes to ultimately reduce demand for and the supply of illicit drugs.

“We need more public education programmes aimed at discouraging young mothers and young males from being lured into becoming mules,” the Minister said. “We have to paint a picture in the most effective way that drug dealing and drug trafficking don’t pay.”

More than forty participants drawn primarily from OECS countries are attending the two-day workshop facilitated by Director of the Centre for Communication Studies at the University of Guyana, Dr Paloma Mohamed and other CARICOM officials.

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