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Holistic approach required to combat drug abuse, says justice minister

Justice Minister Anna Procopiou
Justice Minister Anna Procopiou speaks at The Mental Resilience of the Family conference

A holistic approach is needed to curb drug abuse, including the upgrading of treatment facilities and the provision of additional support to families and children, Justice Minister Anna Koukkidou Procopiou said on Friday.

Corruption enables the trafficking of drugs while most users have a common denominator that they lack a warm family environment, the minister said.

She was speaking at a conference entitled “The mental resilience of the family” in the context of the World Day against Drug Addiction. The workshop, which took place at the University of Cyprus, was organised by the Cyprus Police, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DOD), the Cyprus Addiction Treatment Authority (CTAA) and the Systemic Family institute of Cyprus.

In her address, Procopiou referred to a “global concern” about addictive substance use, which she said threatens global society. The issue of drugs is mutating, she said, adding that people who manufacture and trade drugs are one step ahead of the authorities.

Therefore, she explained, “we need to upgrade treatment structures, an issue on which the state is suffering.” She noted that the work of Ayia Skepi is remarkable, but it is not enough.

The minister then explained that a holistic approach is needed, perhaps even a change in preventive programmes, while the improvement of the quality standards followed must have scientific evidence.

As regard the police, the minister said they understand the need for a coherent policy on the issue of addictive substances. But, she said, it is difficult to deal with minors and young underage users because the incidents are numerous, and the state’s resources are limited.

“In Cyprus we are experiencing the phenomenon of the second generation of users.

“As the ministry of justice and as a state, we will be supportive of those who invest in the development of society, empowering and supporting children and families. We support a holistic and cohesive approach,” she said.

For his part, President of the Cyprus Addiction Treatment Authority, Christos Minas, said that the National Strategy for the prevention of addictions has as a key priority the delay of addictive substances use in various settings.

He said that all the authority’s prevention programmes aim to enhance the knowledge and confidence of parents to prevent emotional and behavioural disorders in children. In fact, he cited the saying of George Bernard Shaw, who had said that “a happy family is but an earlier heaven”.

In her own speech, the former Commissioner for the Protection of Children’s Rights Leda Koursoumba presented the theme of children’s rights, the role of parents in raising children through the lens of human rights, and the positive exercise of the parental role.

Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified in 1989, respect for children’s rights is a legal imperative, Koursouba stressed. She also referred to four fundamental rights, namely the principle of non-discrimination, the best interests of the child – which plays a primary role -, the child’s right to life, and the principle of child participation.

 

The state has the responsibility to support children’s rights, Koursoumba said, while parents have the responsibility to ensure that children have the necessary conditions of life and that the child should grow up in a loving and understanding environment.

The former commissioner then spoke of a “triangular relationship” between children, parents and the state, as well as the role of parents in empowering children.

“We need empowered parents who know their rights,” she said, calling on governments to support parents.

Responding to a question, she said Cyprus was taking measures and that the conventions had mechanisms to check whether states were implementing the provisions of the conventions. “We are on the right track, but there is a lot to be done,” he said.

The state social welfare services’ sector focusing on families and children employ 200 workers, each overseeing 100 cases said the head of the sector Chara Tapanidou. She added that support is offered to 24,500 families and individuals, a total of 59,600 people. The service also handles 1,837 cases of domestic violence, 299 cases of delinquency (of which 174 involve minors), and have made 439 referrals for sexual abuse of minors.

The social welfare services also provide financial support to 4,267 people and care to 1,324 people, she said, noting that there is cooperation with 163 bodies such as NGOs.

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