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European, Latin American and Caribbean court and health officials meet in Ghent to examine ways of providing court-supervised treatment for drug-dependent offenders as an alternative to incarceration

  June 24, 2009

Ghent, Belgium, June 24 -- At a three-day meeting starting June 24 in Ghent, Belgium, judges, prosecutors and health officers from both sides of the Atlantic will discuss effective modalities of drug treatment under judicial supervision as a productive alternative to incarceration for drug-dependent offenders.

The meeting, held under the auspices of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), Secretariat for Multidimensional Security of the Organization of American States (OAS), the City of Ghent, the Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy of the University of Ghent (IRCP), the Office of the Prosecutor, and the District Court of Ghent is part of an ongoing program called EU-LAC Drug Treatment City Partnerships to Improve Drug Treatment, financed by the European Union.

The program brings together national and city policy-makers from 45 cities on both sides of the Atlantic to learn from each other about good, evidence-based practices in the treatment of drug addicts.

Opening the meeting, James Mack, Executive Secretary of CICAD, emphasized that addiction to drugs is a chronic disease that can be successfully managed by long-term adherence to a treatment plan. Monitoring adherence to a treatment plan is the essence of court-supervised treatment of drug-abusing offenders.

Research has shown that drug treatment courts in Chile, Canada, the United States, Australia, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Bermuda and the United Kingdom, among others, have brought down recidivism and also reduced relapse into drug use by those offenders who successfully complete the program.

The meeting coincides with the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26.

For more information, go to the EU-LAC site or contact Antonio Lomba [alomba@oas.org or 202 458-3130]. Additional information is available at the CICAD website.

Reference: E-CICAD/09