Friday, May 12, 2017

"Drug 'reform' madness"

"The oft repeated quotation of the phrase attributed to Albert Einstein, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, comes to mind immediately on reading the leading article of 10th May “Drug reform still pending”. It is my experience that those in the front line of the struggle against drug addiction in Thailand have long been aware of the road block in drug reform. I recall participating several years ago in a seminar held in the Bangkok ONCB office where realistic assessment of Thailand's drug problems were presented, an admission of past failures to control drug traffic in the Kingdom, and, finally, a clear and hopeful proposal of change which would be based in large on a policy of decriminalisation of drugs. Several foreign participants were present, and one of them came to ask me whether the message we had just heard implied a serious move on the part of Thai authorities. My answer was, no, it did not. The forces of insanity were not participants in the seminar, and would continue on their blind path.
There is no doubting the gravity of the problem.  72% of our critically overcrowded prisons are crammed with men and women condemned with utmost severity on drug related crimes, while a few token and showpiece drug treatment centres are half empty. The director of one such centre told me that he did not understand why so few drug cases were referred to him. At the same time in Geneva a government representative assured the Human Rights Committee, that Thailand had reform centres which were undertaking rehabilitation of drug addicts.
Unfortunately, Thailand is not alone in its drug problem insanity; the Philippines has become an arena of bloody murder in the streets in the name of drug suppression, and won support in the recent ASEAN meeting in Manila. Insanity thus becomes a regional norm.
Of course, the always asked question is, if not the path of suppression, what other path is there? Yes, there are other ways, and there are countries who are bravely taking the path of decriminalisation and rehabilitation, most notably the policy of Portugal, which introduced a new programme on drugs in the year 2000. The new law does not deny that drugs are dangerous, but admits that repression does not give better results and endangers people's health
The problem of drugs is one of the most serious human problems ever encountered in human history, and its solution cannot be quick or facile. Success is counted in complex statistics which monitor a stop in growth of the drug epidemic, and then a slow but certain turn around. The problem involves human perceptions and behaviour and one of the great successes of Portugal is in changing the perception of a whole nation to accept that the person addicted to drugs is a patient in need of treatment, rather than a criminal to be persecuted.
In 2003 when Thailand changed the method of execution to lethal injection rather than death by machine gun, a team from the Department of Corrections was sent to the US to learn the new technique of killing. Surely it is opportune to send a similar team to Portugal to learn the technique of restoring life to those trapped in the way of death."
Danthong Breen, Union for Civil Liberty

PostBag, Bangkok Post, 12 May 2017

Speech on Drug Policy Relevant to Whole World

United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, on May 5th, delivered a speech at drug policy convention at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to thank the organizers of the policy forum – FLAG anti-death penalty job power – for organizing this Forum and alluring me to take part in it – I’m each grateful and honored!
This is a crucial initiative – a well timed initiative – one which I help wholeheartedly.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimate that worldwide some 29 million individuals who use medicine endure from drug use problems whereas drug trafficking by trans-national prison cartels is a serious source of violence and insecurity the world over, affecting each society. Drug trafficking can be a serious source of corruption, undermining each the rule of regulation and good governance and eroding public belief.
Another, drug trafficking, drug abuse and their penalties represent main threats to the lives, well being, dignity and hopes of hundreds of thousands of individuals and their family members. In response, nearly a yr in the past to this very day, Heads of State and Government assembled at the United Nations Headquarters to think about a world plan of motion known as: Our joint dedication to successfully addressing and countering the world drug downside. I encourage you to seek the advice of it.
The doc is troublesome to summarize given its breadth however enable me to spotlight a couple of of its key features for you:
The particular session of the UN General Assembly drafted a complete strategy that takes into consideration a variety of human and different components that drive the drug downside together with social improvement, public well being, justice and human rights. It requires simpler approaches than the punishment/punitive mannequin that some governments have adopted.
It urges governments to uphold the inherent dignity of all people, to respect, defend and promote all human rights, elementary freedoms and the rule of regulation and in the improvement and implementation of drug insurance policies.
II
The joint Commitment additionally acknowledges that dependence is a posh well being dysfunction of a power and relapsing nature, whose social causes and penalties could be prevented and handled by, inter alia, efficient scientific evidence-based drug remedy, care and rehabilitation packages, together with community-based packages.
The world’s leaders acknowledged the essential function performed by civil society organizations and people entities concerned in drug-related remedy providers and dedicated to accentuate their function and cooperation with them.
They denounced repeatedly, drug-related corruption; decrying its function in the obstruction of justice, together with by intimidation of justice officers.
They promised to elaborate efficient scientific evidence-based prevention methods which are centered on and tailor-made to the wants of people, households and communities and so they dedicated to advertise proportionate national sentencing insurance policies, practices and tips too for drug-related offenses.
Throughout the joint dedication doc, governments affirm the significance of systematic information assortment, proof gathering, scientific analysis and the sharing of knowledge together with the alternate of greatest practices associated to stopping and countering drug-related crime.
What governments didn’t decide to final yr was “the war on drugs” strategy.
Quite to the opposite. They known as for what quantities to a balanced, multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary strategy, and so they positioned nice emphasis on well being, rights, and justice.
They didn’t recommend that death penalty was an applicable or efficient response to medicine trafficking, not to mention drug use; Instead, they spoke about proportionate sentencing and various punishments.
Their doc will not be good. The joint Commitment to Effectively Addressing and Countering the World Drug Problem is criticized, by activists and quite a few politicians from round the world, for not contemplating extra explicitly the function of hurt discount methods, as an example, comparable to needle and syringe packages and prescription of substitute medicines.
But in April 2016, the basic meeting of the world’s authorities acknowledged explicitly that the “war on drugs” – be it group based mostly, national or world – doesn’t work. And additional, that many harms related to medicine are usually not attributable to medicine, however by the adverse impacts of badly thought out drug insurance policies.
The joint dedication to successfully addressing and countering the world drug downside is a name for motion, however to not any motion: based on the world’s leaders there are different methods, higher methods; evidenced-based, scientific methods, of combating drug abuse and trafficking – methods that don’t make issues worse.
Badly thought out, ill-conceived drug insurance policies not solely fail to deal with substantively drug dependency, drug-related criminality, and the drug commerce, they add extra issues, as has been properly documented, round the world, together with by United Nations our bodies and Special Rapporteurs.
They add, escalate and/or compound issues comparable to:
  • Killings, extra-judicial or by prison gangs; the break-down of the rule of regulation;
  • vigilante crimes,
  • Torture, ill-treatment and sexual violence;
  • Prolonged pre-trial detention, necessary sentencing and disproportionately lengthy sentences for drug possession, and many others.
  • Detention in drug and rehabilitation centres with out trial or a correct analysis of drug dependency;
  • Non-consensual experimental remedy;
And additional, badly thought out, ill-conceived drug insurance policies can foster a regime of impunity infecting the complete justice sector and reaching into complete societies, invigorating the rule of violence relatively than of regulation; eroding public belief in public establishments; breeding concern and main individuals to despair.
These are the findings from analysis undertaken round the world. Let me be clear. In none of the nations the place the perverse penalties of ill-thought out drug insurance policies have been reported, in none of those nations did the drug downside disappear. In truth, the reverse occurred.
III
And so we’re right here in the present day and tomorrow – to take inventory – to study from consultants right here and from overseas, those that have lengthy thought-about, studied and analyzed drug insurance policies, their influence and effectiveness. And we’re right here, collectively, to contribute ourselves to the implementation of the joint dedication by:
  • Providing proof and information to help evidence-based insurance policies and techniques;
  • Collaborating and cooperating throughout totally different nations and various areas of experience – highlighted as being so essential by governments final yr;
  • Listening to 1 one other, respectfully, politely however participating too in sturdy alternate;
  • Developing proposals with and for the Government of the Philippines, different stakeholders, and the individuals of the Philippines – proposals on drug insurance policies and responses which are efficient, and sustainable, bearing in mind the nation’s particular scenario, historical past and contect, in addition to its a number of property and alternatives.
To take par in these exchanges is really a privilege and I thanks for it.
IV
Let me finish by sharing a couple of extra private reflections.
Those of us who’re concerned in human rights works know solely too properly that we live in a world filled with intense disruption. Its signs and its foot print is there for all to see; obvious all over the place. Climate, individuals motion, globalized financial system and globalized crime…however it is usually the case that there’s too is a disruption of norms and values.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’advert Al Hussein, has typically lamented the caustic penalties of those disruptions: It will not be merely that human rights are abused – they continuously have been.
What is phenomenal is the indisputable fact that the very concept of human rights is being questioned and in lots of locations rejected. And that constitutes a marked alteration of the environment globally and domestically, probably the most vital human rights improvement since the institution of the trendy world and common human rights system at the finish of world conflict two.
The assaults we’re witnessing on common, indivisible rights; the undermining of equality, dignity, and accountability – share similarities wherever they happen:
  • There is an in depth software – even advocacy – of a doctrine of world conflict
  • A sure conception of safety, narrowly outlined and in opposition to real human safety, is taking maintain,
  • A blurring if distinctions between combatants and non-combatants; and an ever broadening understanding if the “enemy,” together with the enemy inside.
More crucially nonetheless this rejection of human rights is based on a rejection of our frequent humanity.
The rejects – those who do not slot in, are usually not welcome, are to be rejected, criminalized, punished could differ from nation to nation, group to group, chief to chief – however res assured they’re all human.
  • They could also be migrants or refugees
  • They could also be the poor or the very poor, the homeless.
  • They are avenue kids
  • Indigenous individuals;
  • Political opponents or critics;
  • They are the different…and
  • They could also be drug customers or drug pushers.
Any considered one of these and so many others who, are for one motive or one other, denied their humanity and their human standing – their rights – to justice, to freedom or motion, to safety from power, to freedom of expression. Denied as proper holders, as residents.
These profoundly disturbing developments are occurring at the fingers of authorities that ought to and might know higher. Their demonization – and the unaccountable, empowerment of authority that accompanies it – pushes open a door onto an abyss – a void into which humanity has thrown itself earlier than with terrible penalties – as a result of, after all, one can not deny the humanity if some individuals with out shedding humanity for all individuals.
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And so we’re right here in the present day.
I’m immensely grateful for this invitation, for giving me the unbelievable alternative to spend a while with you.
Over the final eight months since I’ve been appointed UN Special Rapporteur I’ve watched from afar, however by no means from too far. I’ve adopted testimonies of the kinfolk of victims, I’ve seen the courageous work of civil society actors, legal professionals, human rights defenders, teachers, senators, I’ve heard debates between politicians, explanations by authorities officers, and certainly I’ve watched footage too of police and army males – and all saying there are different methods; higher methods; different choices, and higher choices.
This forum, with the dedication and the good will of all events, from the authorities to civil society, from the police to the well being sector – is a crucial benchmark to shine the mild of scrutiny, of truth discovering, of data, of proof – neutral and true – in order that we could search extra clearly our strategy to stopping, responding, supporting.
This mild of proof will assist establish and implement the very best drug/anti drug insurance policies, and interventions. That mild will lead – to proper upheld, fulfilled and loved for and by all.
An American vp Hubert Humphrey as soon as noticed “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life”.
People dwelling in life’s shadows are to not be deserted there.
We are to not be deserted there.
I’m deeply honored to have been concerned on this journey with you and deeply dedicated to proceed on that journey with you, starting with these two days convention.