Merida Initiative supports GOM Therapeutic Justice Program

Cancun, Quintana Roo, Friday, December 8, 2017 – Representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico shared plans to support the expansion of therapeutic justice throughout Mexico under the Merida Initiative.  The proposals were aired during this week’s CIJ Congress on Addictions which is taking place simultaneously with the ISSUP Conference in Quintana Roo, Cancun.  The announcement comes on the heels of the release of the ENCODAT 2016-2017 national survey on substance consumption, use, and abuse in Mexico which indicates increased use of illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines, especially among adolescents.  It coincides with calls for public policy makers to recognize substance abuse as a health issue.

Therapeutic justice uses effective legal mechanisms, combined with clinical evidence-based treatment methods and social reintegration programs to treat and manage substance abuse and other morbidity issues.  Centered on the use of Drug Treatment Courts (DTCs) for qualifying, non-violent offenders, therapeutic justice has been used successfully to rehabilitate addicts so they avoid recidivism and become productive members of society.  Currently there are 25 DTCs in six states in Mexico, all of which have been established with Merida Initiative support.  The U.S. Embassy plans to work together with the National Commission on Addictions (CONADIC), SESNSP, SEGOB, and other partners to expand this network to include DTCs in 11 states by the end of 2018.

Through the Merida Initiative, the U.S. Embassy together with the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD-OAS) has supported the training and certification of 800 drug counsellors under theNormas Mexicanas standards.  In conjunction with Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of American (CADCA) the U.S. Embassy has also supported the creation of 32 Anti-Drug Community Coalitions in 13 states throughout the Republic.

Speaking in Cancun earlier in the week, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement James A. Walsh, called on the global community to stop stigmatizing drug abuse and treat it as a health issue that affects communities worldwide.  “The drug addiction crisis which is afflicting my country, as it afflicts so many of your countries, is an international problem which requires an international solution.  It requires a comprehensive, integrated solution that treats addiction as a health issue, and one that effectively reduces demand while limiting supply.” 

BACKGROUND

The Merida Initiative is a bilateral security cooperation agreement between Mexico and the United States of America. It provides tangible support to Mexico’s law enforcement and judicial institutions, strengthens border security, and helps to counteract the activities of transnational criminal organizations and the illegal trade in narcotics. Since 2009, the United States has delivered USD 1.6 billion in equipment, training, and capacity-building assistance to the government of Mexico.

The 3rd annual International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP) Conference runs 4-8, December, 2017.   The 19th International CIJ Congress on Addictions and Dual Pathology runs 6-8 December, 2017.  Combined, these events comprise one of the largest gatherings of substance abuse experts bringing together over 2,000 health professionals, social workers, government policy makers and civil society from 65 countries around the world.

There are currently 25 Drug Treatment Courts in six states throughout Mexico. They are: Chiapas; Chihuahua, Durango, Estado de Mexico, Morelos, Nuevo Leon.

Mexico has the largest network of CADCA anti-drug community coalitions in the western hemisphere outside the United States of America.