President’s Office stalls Suriname’s national drugs policy

PARAMARIBO – Suriname’s national drugs policy has been stalled since early last year. At that time, a new National Anti-Drugs Council (NAR) was to be appointed, but the President’s Office failed to endorse the new council. The Executive Bureau of the NAR (UBN) speaks of ‘enormous stagnation.’

NAR members are partly appointed , partly elected by the organizations represented in the council. The names of the new council members have been submitted to the President, but he still has not approved their appointment, so they cannot be sworn in. “We are waiting for that resolution,” a frustrated UBN director Marie Bunwaree tells de Ware Tijd. The UBN has a liaison role in relations between the government and NGO’s concerned with drug related issues.

NAR’s structure was revised in 2011, when the “formal authority for coordination and monitoring” was given to the President’s Office. “This will result in improved cooperation between the different Ministries and departments and contribute to increased efficiency and effectiveness,” the National Drugs Master Plan 2011-2015 states. The NAR must report directly to the President’s Office. Director of the President’s Office Eugène van der San tells de Ware Tijd this matter has not been brought to his attention.

The National Drugs Master Plan contains detailed plans to gather data on drug use in a structural manner, and to amend legislation. Nothing will come of the plan’s implementation now, Bunwaree says, adding that much additional research is needed, but this cannot get off the ground.

Another issue that worries the UBN, but has not been the subject of sufficient research, is gambling addiction in Suriname. “There are 15 casinos in Paramaribo for a population of over 200,000, which gives an indication of the extent of the problem,” Bunwaree says. The UBN would like to offer help to compulsive gamblers in a structural manner.

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