Groups Put Pressure on Governments to Reform Harmful Drug Policies

As the United Nations launches the 2009 World Drug Report this week, more than 40 international groups and experts worldwide today issued a call to action that presses governments to adopt a humane approach to drug policy.
 
The Call to Action, signed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, former president of Brazil Fernando Cardoso, and others, urges governments to enact policies that are based on scientific and medical research rather than politics. The Call has been signed by a total of 46 people from a range of professional backgrounds, including economists, drug policy/harm reduction experts, AIDS and human rights activists, and professors of medicine, representing 14 international organizations and 32 national organizations from 21 different countries.
 
“We need a more humane approach to drug use based on harm reduction principles and respect for human rights to eliminate the negative impact of the drug trade here in Guyana,” said Donna Snagg, President of Juncata Juvant Friendly Society. “Old methods are not working so we must turn to more evidence-based approaches,” she continued.
 
Rather than receiving treatment, millions of nonviolent drug users are languishing in prisons as a result of current drug policies. The drug trade continues to grow while families are torn apart by the global war on drugs. As the HIV and AIDS crisis spreads, policies that drive away drug users are creating public health disasters.
 
“Laws and policies that drive drug users underground, keep people away from life-saving HIV services and allows AIDS to spread,” said Joel Simpson, Co-Chair of Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD). “These are very similar dynamics of exclusion which we see against sexual and gender minorities, and other marginalized groups,” he added.
 
Instead of continuing with these ineffective and harmful policies, today’s call to action urges governments to focus on reducing the harms of drug trade and use. It is time for governments to support needle exchange, substitution therapy, and decriminalization of possession for personal use. Drug control measures must respect human rights with penalties that are proportional and humane, and recognize that drug cultivation is primarily a development issue—not simply a security threat.
 
Juncata Juvant Friendly Society (JJFS) is a non-governmental, charitable, non-profit organization, providing services to persons who have been deported for resettlement into the Guyanese society.
 
Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) is a local, non-governmental, advocacy organisation working on issues related to homophobia, human rights and health promotion in Guyana.
 
Press Contacts:
 
For JJFS, email juncatajuvant@yahoo.com
 
For SASOD, email sasod_guyana@yahoo.com
Tags: UNHIV/AIDSPreventionHigh Risk Populations