Media Center

Press Release


  November 30, 2006

Family disintegration, crime and violence, joblessness and lost productivity are among major perils that stem from drug abuse, the Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert R. Ramdin, told delegates attending the 40th meeting of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. He called for “an integrated approach involving prevention, treatment and law enforcement” to address the problem in the Americas.

Drug abuse “represents a significant risk factor for societies, and weakens the potential of vulnerable young children and youth whose development is most intricately connected to the debilitating effects of poverty,” Assistant Secretary General Ramdin told the region’s national anti-drug commissioners and other delegates. “If not effectively contained and tackled,” he added, “illicit drug trafficking can damage the very fabric of our societies and its democratic underpinnings.”

The OAS official inaugurated the meeting Wednesday evening, along with Bolivian Defense Minister Walker San Miguel and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship Mauricio Dorfler Ocampo, the latter in his capacity as the outgoing CICAD Chairman.

During its session today, the Inter-American Commission elected new authorities for the coming year. Brazil’s National Anti-Drug Secretary, Paulo Roberto Yog de Miranda Uchoa, will serve as CICAD Chair, and Colombia’s Deputy Minister of Justice, Guillermo Francisco Reyes, will be Vice Chair.

Among the issues on the agenda of the three-day CICAD meeting are hemispheric cooperation strategies to reduce illicit drug production, trafficking and abuse, as well as a review of the achievements of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM), a process to assess progress in the fight against illegal drugs in the hemisphere’s nations and in the region as a whole. Delegates will also hear a number of reports on such issues as the fight against money laundering, drug sales over the Internet, and new anti-drug laws and strategies in various countries.

Addressing the meeting, which also marks the 20th anniversary of the OAS anti-drug agency, Ramdin urged member states “to stay ahead of the traffickers—in all aspects—using all remedies available.” He noted that laws “should facilitate, not complicate, efforts by law enforcement to confiscate the proceeds of illicit enterprise, and measures must be put in place to ensure that weak or vague laws and judicial loopholes do not become the very tools that traffickers use to flout the law and evade prosecution.” Ambassador Ramdin further observed that those who profit from this illicit trade are constantly “looking for ways to evade detection and prevention mechanisms” and to adapt methods aimed at circumventing anti-trafficking measures.

Ramdin noted that CICAD has come a long way in its two decades of service to the Americas, adding that it “has evolved into a collegial institution in which member states have learned to work together productively, without the excesses of rhetoric or antagonism, but more notably, to the point where CICAD’s approach is now held up as an example worthy of emulation.”

In reviewing the OAS agency’s achievements, the Assistant Secretary General noted that the MEM “is now recognized by CICAD’s member states as a useful tool for assessing anti-drug efforts and for pinpointing areas where improvements can be made.” With CICAD support, Ramdin said, most member states now have National Drug Commissions as well as functioning financial intelligence units to help alert law enforcement agencies to potential cases of money laundering and related activities.

The agency’s 20th anniversary prompted remarks by several member states. The U.S. delegation read a letter from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in which she called CICAD “an international model for multilateral cooperation and progress. Through the Commission’s many important policies and programs, you are helping to thwart lawless actors and criminals from gaining personal profit at the expense of our societies’ most valuable members.”

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Argentina’s Secretariat for the Prevention of Drug Addiction and Drug Trafficking, José Ramón Granero, also underscored the importance of this milestone. “Twenty years of continuous efforts have made this Commission the undisputed political forum in the hemisphere to debate, reach consensus and implement policies to address the worldwide drug problem and in this way guide the political measures that should be taken by our respective governments,” he said.

Reference: E-263/06