Politics

Has the decade-old war on drugs in Asia succeeded?

In March 2019, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs will convene in Vienna to evaluate progress on countering the drug problem across the world. When officials sit down for discussions, they should not shy away from asking the tough questions.

Current approaches to drug control in Asia overwhelmingly criminalise people already on the margins of society, those who use or are dependent on drugs, with dire consequences for them, their families and communities. Several countries in Asia, including Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore, still condone caning, whipping, lashing or flogging for people accused of drug use, including children. Even if corporal punishment is banned, individuals caught using drugs continue to be treated like criminals in many places across Asia. So have these brutal anti-drug campaigns at least achieved their stated goal of reducing drug markets? Data released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime shows that this is not the case. Despite costly eradication efforts, illicit plant cultivation has persisted in most areas, [and] increased. On top of these various failures, politicians in the region have increasingly started using the drug problem for political gains. This has eroded democratic institutions, promoted corruption and normalised stigma and discrimination against people who use drugs. In the Philippines, for instance, the so-called “drug menace” has been invoked to justify authoritarian measures, weaken civilian authority, and imprison critics.

Original Article (Al Jazeera):
Has the decade-old war on drugs in Asia succeeded?
Artwork Fair Use: Natural Earth Data

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