Humane drug policies

Friday, June 13, 2008
Chinese soldiers escort drug dealers to a public sentence on International Day against Drugs in 2005. Six of them were executed. 

At the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS, a group of civil society organisations collaborated to draft an open letter to senior UN officials to raise concerns about the UN-sponsored International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26th. Many governments use the day to highlight repressive drug control efforts by publicising executions, arrests and drug seizures.

During the High-Level Meeting on AIDS, HIV activists and organizations issued this letter calling for the UN to "speak with one voice," and address drug use through a health and human rights-based approach rather than through punitive measures. 

China used to celebrate the day by publicly executing drug trafficking offenders. In 2007, there were no anti-drug day executions reported in China. But Chinese authorities did announce death sentences for seven drug traffickers on anti-drug day eve and announced one more on anti-drug day itself.

The head of the UNODC, Antonio Costa, recently said: "I don't believe we need to kill because of drugs." Hopefully, countries will respect the UN's wish this year.

Read the open letter at the HR2 Harm Reduction & Human Rights  blog.