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Anti-Drug Activist Blasts Efforts To Stop Drug Abuse

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Failed policies by successive governments and constant pandering to the United States have resulted in a cycle of inappropriate attention being paid to Bahamians and more people becoming drug users and addicts, charged a leading anti-drug activist.

Joseph Darville, co-chair of The Bahamas National Drug Council (BNDC), publicly lamented the country’s approach to combating drug abuse as he addressed an opening session of a Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) and Bain and Grants Town Urban Renewal Project drug prevention seminar Tuesday.

Mr. Darville delivered a scathing critique of both Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and Free National Movement (FNM) anti-drug policies as well as a chilling assessment of The Bahamas and the US’ relationship.

Though most of the attendees at Tuesday’s session were primary school students, Mr. Darville’s message was directed toward National Security State Minister Keith Bell and US Embassy Narcotics Officer Davi Jea, who were also speakers at the event.

“Obviously, we are more concerned with pleasing our neighbours to the north, rather than attempting to make our populace drug free,” Mr. Darville said. “This is a serious indictment on our nation; and even our friends to the north pick up on our attitude in this regard. And this is reflected in their greater interest to assist in generous monetary allocation for interdiction and law enforcement, as opposed to supporting the work of the BNDC to a much more significant degree.”

“The priority of the US is to stop drugs from entering their borders and one cannot blame them for this; but at the same time we become the residual victims of the demand of their populace for the drugs which are trans-shipped through our borders. And we often bear the blame and are then subsequently downgraded if our efforts do not match their critical expectations.”

He expressed concern that the BNDC has been mistreated by successive administrations in both funding and the governments’ refusal to adopt policies recommended by the council which he maintained would be more effective in the fight against drug abuse.

“The government has been inclined to place much greater emphasis on interdiction and law enforcement, to the extent that education, prevention, demand reduction and intervention on the personal level have suffered tremendously, and lagged dreadfully behind,” said Mr. Darville.

“The BNDC, by virtue of its mandate, is effectively responsible with dealing with these areas. But these critical areas do not appear to be in the forefront of political importance historically, and so, by and large, they have been bypassed.”

Neither Mr. Jea nor Senator Bell who spoke after Mr. Darville responded directly to his comments, though both men acknowledged and agreed with some of the points he made.

Mr. Darville later told The Journal that he has grown frustrated with the lack of serious attention and focus given to the fight against drugs and he wanted his comments to remind those in authority that there is still a lot of work to be done.

Korvell Pyfrom

Written by Korvell Pyfrom

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