The first International Conference on Drugs Policies in the Portuguese-Speaking African Countries (PALOP) took place on 15-16 January 2014 in Praia, Cape Verde, under the aegis of the Portuguese NGO Agência Piaget para o Desenvolvimento (APDES) [Piaget Agency for Development] and the Ministry of Justice of the Cape Verdean Government and was co-funded by the Open Society Foundations.
The event was attended by several distinguished speakers, such as the former President of Portugal and Commissioner of the Global Commission on Drug Policy Jorge Sampaio, former President of Cape Verde and Commissioner of the West African Commission on Drugs Pedro Pires, several Ministers of the PALOP and representatives of international organizations associated with drugs, such as IDPC, UNODC and WHO. David Soares, Albany County District Attorney was also one of the important figures who attended this conference. Cape Verde Prime Minister, José Maria Neves, spoke at the opening ceremony.
The initiative’s goal was to promote and expand the strategic cooperation between governments, international bodies and civil society organizations in the ambit of drugs policies, as well as to heighten the opportunity to reflect upon the current state of those policies and the impact they’ve been causing in health care, social justice and economy.
During this conference, very important themes related with the drugs issue in the PALOP were discussed; also, experiences related to the fight against drugs carried out by participating countries were shared.
The most fundamental conclusion was the willingness of the PALOP governments to establish common policies on drugs based on shared responsibility, cooperation and concerted intervention so that Africa’s lusophone nations don’t become “free zone” for drugs and crimes connected with their trafficking and use.
Another important recommendation resultant of this meeting was the need of empowerment of civil society organizations, so they can develop an improved outreach work.
In addition to this, another key outcome was the signature of the “Declaração da Praia” by members of the International Union of Portuguese Language Judges, represented by judges from the PALOP, Portugal and Brazil. The declaration resulted in a memorandum on Drug Policies and Human Rights, thus committing themselves to act according to the principles that should guide the prevention and proper treatment of the “drug problem”.
Undoubtedly, the conference was able to reach its main goal, effectively creating a platform of conjoint action, being a very relevant meeting to the drug policy domain at the macro level.
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