Drug policies based on health and human rights - EDITORIAL

26 June 2015 06:30 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Narcotics such as heroin, cannabis (Ganja), hashish and cocaine are like weapons of mass destruction because through a process of mass deception they destroy the lives not only of millions of drug addicts but also their families. That means the destruction of the nucleus of society and thereby society itself.
Yesterday the world marked the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit trafficking with the theme being, “Lets develop our lives, our communities and our identities without drugs”.

On December 7, 1987, the United Nations General Assembly had  decided to observe  June 26 as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.
The end of the first century of drug control - it all started in Shanghai in 1909 - coincided with the closing of the UNGASS decade launched in 1998 by a General Assembly Special Session on Drugs. These anniversaries stimulated reflection on the effectiveness, and the limitations, of drug policy. The review resulted in the reaffirmation that illicit drugs continue to pose a health danger to humanity. That’s why drugs are, and should remain controlled. With this sanction in mind, Member States confirmed unequivocal support for the UN Conventions that have established the world drug control system.

The General Assembly recognized that despite continued and increased efforts by the international community, the world drug problem continues to constitute a serious threat to public health, the safety and well-being of humanity, in particular young people, and the national security and sovereignty of States, and that it undermines socio-economic and political stability and sustainable development. It encouraged the Commission and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to continue their work on international drug control and urged all Governments to provide the fullest possible financial and political support to enable UNODC to continue, expand and strengthen its operational and technical cooperation.

But in New York yesterday, a rally was held outside UN headquarters as part of the global “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign, where thousands of activists in more than  100 cities around the world made their voices heard. The campaign called on governments to put an end to what it saw as  an expensive and counter-productive war on drugs. It claimed this war had failed to reduce drug use or supply, it costs in excess of US$ 100 billion each year to enforce, it had led to the mass incarceration of the vulnerable and the poor, and it fueled human rights violations and HIV epidemics.

The campaign said June 26 had been used by governments to ‘celebrate’ drug arrests, seizures and even executions. The campaign hopes to change the narrative, and to highlight the need for a better approach.

“For too long June 26 has been, at best, an opportunity for the UN to rehash its outdated drug policies and, at worst, a dark spectacle when governments display their commitment to the drug war by emphasizing harsh punishments, such as executions,” said Hannah Hetzer, Policy Manager of the Americas at the Drug Policy Alliance. “We are reclaiming this day by highlighting and celebrating the flourishing global movement of people who are fighting for new drug policies grounded in health and human rights.”

In Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe were among those who attended a ceremony at Temple Trees to mark this day. The Police Narcotics Bureau said with the assistance of other institutions it had arrested more than 38,000 alleged drug traffickers from January 1 to June 23 this year. It said that a majority of the cases were related to cannabis followed by heroin, hashish and cocaine. According to the Bureau 26.71 kg of heroin, 4,489 kg of cannabis, hashish and cocaine had been taken into custody.

The National Dangerous Drug Control Board Chairman Nilantha Samarasinghe said a special Intelligence Unit would be established to conduct raids on drugs. He said he hoped measures would be taken to prevent drug dealers and casino and liquor bar owners from entering politics.

As the UN Chief Ban Ki-moon said yesterday, efforts against illicit drugs must be connected to our work to promote opportunities through equitable and sustainable development. We must continually strive to make the weak and fragile stronger.
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  Comments - 1

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  • raj Saturday, 27 June 2015 09:03 PM

    Criminal elements among Tamils and Sinhalese are destroying the society by spreading drugs and other substances. Sri Lanka was drug free long time ago. Drugs in Sri Lanka has increased under the previous government.


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