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V. Rights of the child

55. Article 33 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that States parties shall take all appropriate measures to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances.

56. In its general comment No. 3 (2003) on HIV/AIDS and the rights of the child, the Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that, in most countries, children have not benefited from HIV prevention programmes related to substance use and that, where HIV prevention programmes exist, they have largely targeted adults. It observed that injecting practices using unsterilized instruments increase the risk of HIV transmission and that programmes and policies aimed at reducing substance use and HIV transmission must recognize the particular sensitivities and lifestyles of children. In its general comment No. 15 (2013) on the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, the Committee endorsed harm reduction as an important approach to minimizing the negative health impacts of substance abuse. It called for children to benefit from harm reduction programmes in its concluding observations (see CRC/C/UKR/CO/4, para. 59, CRC/C/AUT/CO/3-4, para. 51, and CRC/C/ALB/CO/2-4, para. 63 (b)).

57. The Committee has recommended that children receive accurate and objective information on drugs. It has called for children who use drugs not to be subjected to criminal proceedings and for the possession of drugs by children to be decriminalized (see CRC/C/OPAC/MEX/CO/1, para. 29, and CRC/C/UKR/CO/4, paras. 59-60). However, the Committee found that, in practice, in most States children who use drugs are subject to criminal prosecution and often have no access to harm reduction and drug treatment services. The Committee criticized the aerial fumigation of drug crops because of its effects on children (see CRC/C/COL/CO/3, para. 72). It also condemned the practice of placing children in compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres (see CRC/C/KHM/CO/2, paras. 55-56).

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