Politics

Punitive drug policies fuel human rights abuses

*Operation Michoacán

The right to health is also undermined significantly by punitive drug policies. Nowhere is this more evident than in Russia, where, as a result of tough drug laws and a lack of sufficient healthcare, one in 100 adults is HIV positive. This has been directly attributed to the prohibition of opiate substitute prescribing, and a lack of government support for effective interventions such as needle exchange programmes.

The core of the issue for those who use problematically is that they are defined by their drug use which is identified as a criminal act, and this does not apply equally across socio-economic groups; it is those who live in poverty who are the focus of police. The war on drugs is a war on people, particularly poor people. In my experience the vast majority of people who use drugs problematically have suffered trauma during their lives and are self-medicating to deal with memories of abuse, abandonment, or bereavement, or to aid mental health issues. Yet they are one of the most stigmatised and marginalised groups in society. Importantly, not all those who use drugs do so problematically. It is estimated that 90 per cent of people who use drugs do so recreationally for pleasure; the biggest risk they face is criminalisation. In South East Asia and China, the use of compulsory detention centres for people who use drugs is promoted under the guise of “treatment” – but in reality, reports of torture, rape, and forced labour are common in these facilities, where both adults and children are detained.

Original Article (Talking Drugs):
Punitive drug policies fuel human rights abuses
Artwork Fair Use: Darkwatch00

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