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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

UN calls for ending sole use of punitive measures when combating drug crime


The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report Wednesday detailing the problems that states are facing in combating drug trafficking and addiction globally.

The report states that while the drug problem is significant, treating people who use drugs as criminals has never been an effective strategy to combat drug use and harm in communities. The report also considered the stigma that many people face when they seek help for drug-related problems. The report acknowledges that there is an intrinsic difficulty as freedom of expression and other human rights need to be balanced with the safety of the public.

High Commissioner Volker Türk stated that the use of punitive measures when combating drug crime was a potential reason for the difficulties that many countries see. The report asks countries to consider using alternate methods in the “war on drugs.” This could include methods such as decriminalization, ensuring rehab facilities are widely available or including rehabilitation programs in sentencing. Turk further stated that many of the traditional methods of dealing with drugs have proven ineffective, particularly in recent years and that “Laws, policies and practices” must adapt to ensure they are effective at reducing the harm caused by drugs.

The 2023 World Drug Report found that there are more countries than ever trying a decriminalization approach with positive results. The report concludes by stating more nations should build upon these trends and try an adaptation of the decriminalization model.

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