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VII. Conclusions and recommendations



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VII. Conclusions and recommendations

61. The right to health should be protected by ensuring that persons who use drugs have access to health-related information and treatment on a non-discriminatory basis. Harm reduction programmes, in particular opioid substitution therapy should be available and offered to persons who are drug dependent, especially those in prisons and other custodial settings. Consideration should be given to removing obstacles to the right to health, including by decriminalizing the personal use and possession of drugs; moreover, public health programmes should be increased. The right to health requires better access to controlled essential medicines, especially in developing countries.

62. The prohibition of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and other forms of ill-treatment and the right to a fair trial should be protected in accordance with international norms, including in respect of persons who are arrested, detained or charged for drug-related offences. Drug dependent persons in custodial settings should not be denied opioid substitution therapy as a means of eliciting confessions or other information, and opioid substitution therapy should be provided as part of a detainee’s right to health in all circumstances. Compulsory detention centres should be closed.

63. The right to life of persons convicted of drug-related offences should be protected and, in accordance with article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee, such persons should not be subject to the death penalty. The right to life should be protected by law enforcement agencies in their efforts to address drug-related crime, and only proportional force should be used, when necessary. Extrajudicial killings should be subject to prompt, independent and effective investigations to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice.

64. Ethnic minorities and women who possess or use drugs, or who are “microdistributors”, should be protected against discrimination. Consideration should be given to reforming laws and policies to address the disparate impact of drug policies on ethnic minorities and women. Providing training to law enforcement, health personnel and social service workers who come into contact with drug users should also be considered, to eliminate discrimination.

65. Taking into account the severe impact that a conviction for a drug-related offence can have on a person’s life, consideration should be given to alternatives to the prosecution and imprisonment of persons for minor, non-violent drug-related offences. Reforms aimed at reducing overincarceration should take into account such alternatives.

66. The rights of the child should be protected by focusing on prevention and communicating in a child-friendly and age-appropriate manner, including on the risks of transmitting HIV and other blood-borne viruses through injecting drug use. Children should not be subjected to criminal prosecution, but responses should focus on health education, treatment, including harm reduction programmes, and social re-integration.

67. Indigenous peoples have a right to follow their traditional, cultural and religious practices. Where drug use is part of these practices, the right of use for such narrowly defined purposes should in principle be protected, subject to limitations provided for in human rights law.





* * Late submission.

1  The submissions are available from www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/WorldDrugProblem.aspx.

2  See Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, art. 2 (5).

3  World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Technical Guide for Countries to Set Targets for Universal Access to HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care for Injecting Drug Users (2012), p. 26.

4  WHO, Consolidated Guidelines on HIV Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment and Care for Key Populations (July 2014), pp. 96-99.

5  Submission of the Special Rapporteur to the Committee against Torture (19 October 2012), p. 6. Available from www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Health/drugPolicyLaw.pdf.

6  WHO, Guidance on Prevention of Viral Hepatitis B and C among People Who Inject Drugs, policy brief (July 2012).

7  Harm Reduction International, Global State of Harm Reduction 2012.

8  See E/C.12/RUS/CO/5, E/C.12/ZAZ/CO/1, E/C.12/EST/CO/2 and E/C.12/UKR/CO/5.

9  In its general comment No. 15 (2013) on the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health.

10  WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS, Technical Guide, pp. 10-26.

11  WHO, “Effectiveness of sterile needle and syringe programming in reducing HIV/AIDS among injecting drug users” (Geneva, 2004), p. 28, and WHO, Consolidated Guidelines, p. 4.

12  WHO, “Four ways to reduce hepatitis infections in people who use drugs” (21 July 2012) and UNAIDS, The Gap Report (Geneva, 2014), p. 173.

13  Opioid substitution therapy is also referred to as opioid maintenance treatment, opioid agonist maintenance treatment or medication assisted treatment, according to WHO.

14  WHO, Consolidated Guidelines, p. 4.

15  WHO, Community Management of Opioid Overdose (Geneva, 2014), p. 3.

16  WHO, Consolidated Guidelines, p. 4.

17  Harm Reduction International, The Global State of Harm Reduction 2014.

18  UNODC, World Drug Report 2015 (United Nations publication, sales No. E.15.XI.6), p. ix.

19  WHO, Consolidated Guidelines, p. 5.

20  WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS, Technical Guide, pp. 10-21.

21  Global Commission on HIV and the Law, HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights and Health (New York, July 2012) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Addressing the Development Dimensions of Drug Policy (June 2015), p. 19.

22  WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS, Technical Guide, p. 26, and WHO, Consolidated Guidelines, p. 5.

23  WHO Regional Office for Europe, The Madrid Recommendation: Health Protection in Prisons as an Essential Part of Public Health (Copenhagen, 2010), pp. 3-4.

24  UNODC and WHO, “Principles of drug dependence treatment”, discussion paper (2008), p. 14.

25  Submission of the Special Rapporteur to the Committee against Torture (19 October 2012), p. 6.

26  Ibid.

27  United Nations publication, sales No. E.06.XIV.4, p. 30.

28  WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS, “Provision of sterile injecting equipment to reduce HIV transmission” policy brief (2004), p. 2.

29  Harm Reduction International, Global State of Harm Reduction 2014.

30  WHO, Consolidated Guidelines, p. 91.

31  UNAIDS, The Gap Report, p. 183.

32  Submission of Portugal. See Artur Domosławski, Drug policy in Portugal: the Benefits of Decriminalizing Drug Use (Warsaw, Open Society Foundations, 2011).

33  Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2004, p. 80.

34  Ari Rosmarin and Niamh Eastwood, A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Policies in Practice across the Globe (London, Release, 2012). Jamaica has decriminalized cannabis use (see the Dangerous Drug Amendment Act, 2015, para. 6, amending sect. 7C of the Act).

35  Submissions of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, pp. 3-5; Human Rights Watch, p. 2; the International Drug Policy Consortium, p. 5; Release, p. 8; and the Women’s Harm Reduction International Network, p. 9.

36  See Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2014, para. 12, and WHO, Ensuring Balance in National Policies on Controlled Substances: Guidance for Availability and Accessibility of Controlled Medicines (Malta, 2011).

37  Submission of the Women’s Harm Reduction International Network, p. 4.

38  Submission of the Russian Civil Society Mechanism for Monitoring of Drug Policy Reforms in Russia, pp. 5-6.

39  Global Commission on HIV and the Law, HIV and the Law, and submission of Eurasian Harm Reduction Network, p. 4.

40  Submission of Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, Conectas Human Rights and Corporacion Humanas, p. 4, and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Report on the Use of Pretrial Detention in the Americas (2013), para. 137.

41  Submission of Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales et al, pp. 5, 9 and 27.

42  François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Health and Human Rights Resource Guide (Harvard University, 2013), p. 4.9.

43  See also Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 and General Assembly resolution 39/118.

44  Harm Reduction International, The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2012, p. 5.

45  See also the submission of Amnesty International, p. 2.

46  Reprieve, Harm Reduction International, International Drug Policy Consortium, Transform, Release, Espolea, Drug Policy Alliance, Diogenis, Andrey Rylkov Foundation, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and Forum Droghe, “INCB report launch and the death penalty for drug offences” (joint statement, 3 March 2015).

47  UNODC, “UNODC and the promotion and protection of human rights” (2102), p. 10.

48  Council of the European Union, “EU guidelines on the death penalty” (doc. No. 8416/13, annex).

49  Submissions of Switzerland; the Mexican Commission for the Defence and Promotion of Human Rights, pp. 3-4; the Count the Costs Initiative, p. 7; and Human Rights Watch, pp. 2-3.

50  See also the High Commissioner’s opening statement at the twenty-seventh session of the Human Rights Council.

51  Submissions of Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, Conectas Human Rights and Corporacion Humanas, pp. 3 and 6-9; International Service for Human Rights and Peace Brigades International, p. 6; and the Mexican Commission for the Defence and Promotion of Human Rights, pp. 1-6.

52  Count the Costs, “The war on drugs: undermining human rights”, p. 4.

53  General comment No. 32 (2007) on the right to equality before the law and to a fair trial, para. 22.

54  Global Commission on Drug Policy, Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work (2014), p. 22.

55  UNDP, Addressing the Development Dimensions of Drug Policy, p. 25, and the submission of Release, p. 2.

56  Submission of Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, Conectas Human Rights and Corporacion Humanas, p. 27.

57  Submissions of Colectivo de Estudios Drogas y Derecho; and Harm Reduction International and Penal Reform International, p. 1.

58  Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights and Open Society Foundations, Health and Human Rights Resource Guide (2013), p. 4.7. See also Open Society Foundations, Treated with Cruelty: Abuses in the Name of Rehabilitation (2011) and “Human rights abuses in the name of drug treatment: reports from the field” (2009).

59  Available from www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/document/2012/JC2310_Joint%20Statement6March12FINAL_en.pdf.

60  UNDP, Addressing the Development Dimensions of Drug Policy, p. 25.

61  Count the Costs, “The war on drugs: promoting stigma and discrimination”, pp. 3-5.

62  Rosmarin and Eastwood, A Quiet Revolution.

63  Submissions of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, p. 6; and Harm Reduction International and Penal Reform International, p. 4.

64  Count the Costs, “The war on drugs: promoting stigma and discrimination”, pp. 7-8.

65  Corina Giacomello, “Women, drug offenses and penitentiary systems in Latin America” (International Drug Policy Consortium, 2013).

66  Count the Costs, “The war on drugs: promoting stigma and discrimination”, pp. 8-9.

67  Submission of the Women’s Harm Reduction International Network, pp. 6-7.

68  Ibid., p. 5.

69  Submission of the Open Society Institute, pp. 49-52. See also UNODC, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), WHO and the International Network of People Who Use Drugs, “Women who inject drugs and HIV: addressing specific needs” (2014).

70  Submissions of the Women’s Harm Reduction International Network, p. 8; and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network, pp. 4-5.

71  See also the International Labour Organization Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169), and the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

72  See Report of the International Narcotics Control Board of 2011, paras. 270-280.

73  See American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments of 1994, sect. 3 (a).

74  Supreme Court of Italy, judgement No. 14876 (2012).

75  The Dangerous Drug (Amendment) Act, 2015, para. 6, amending sect. 7C of the Act.

76  See Prince v. President of the Law Society of the Cape of Good Hope and Others, Constitutional Court of South Africa (2002), in which four of the nine judges agreed that denying the petitioner access to the bar because of his religious cannabis use amounted to a disproportionate infringement on the religious freedom of the Rastafari, and CCPR/C/91/D/1474/2006.



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