Amnesty International calls for change in global drug policy – Focus on care instead of criminalisation

June 26 is World Drug Day, and activists all over the world gather during the #SupportDontPunish campaign to promote drug policies that protect human rights. Amnesty International has published a report on the eve of this day to contribute to the development and reform of today’s drug policy. Amnesty International is calling on states to adopt new models of drug control that put human health and other human rights at the centre, including decriminalising the use, possession, cultivation and procurement of drugs for personal use, and effective regulation of drugs to create legal and safe channels for those who have the right to use them.

The global war on drugs has failed!

Prohibition and criminalisation have led to widespread human rights violations and violence worldwide. Amnesty International and many other organisations have documented these violations, which include police abuses of power, discrimination, extrajudicial killings, torture and other forms of ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and violations of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health.

New models for drug control

To manage the risks associated with drugs, governments should take control and regulate the production, sale, and use of these substances to minimize their potential harm. States should strive to remove today’s illegal drugs from the black market through responsible regulation, prevention and care interventions based on scientific evidence rather than pursuing failed prohibition policies that lead to human rights violations.

Decriminalization and health

Amnesty International is calling on states to decriminalise the use, possession, cultivation and acquisition of drugs for personal use. Effective regulation of drugs should ensure legal and safe channels for those who are allowed to use them. Such policies must be accompanied by an expansion of health care and other social services to address drug-related problems, as well as other measures to address the underlying socio-economic causes that increase the risks of drug addiction and drive people to participate in the illicit drug trade, such as poverty, discrimination, unemployment, disease, denial of education, or lack of housing.

Combating discrimination and criminal justice

Governments must also address the deep-rooted inequalities within the criminal justice system associated with drug policy. This includes ending the death penalty for drug-related offences, abolishing arbitrary detention and forced treatment of drug users, and ensuring that drug laws are not applied in a discriminatory manner.

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