Zero Discrimination Day

From the UNAIDS brochure

Today, on Zero Discrimination Day, 1 March, we celebrate the right of everyone to live a full and productive life – and live it with dignity. Zero Discrimination Day highlights how people can become informed about and promote tolerance, compassion, peace and, above all, a movement for change. Zero Discrimination Day is helping to create a global movement of solidarity to end all forms of discrimination.

In many countries, laws result in people being treated differently, excluded from essential services or being subject to undue restrictions on how they live their lives, simply because of who they are, what they do or who they love. Such laws are discriminatory – they deny human rights and fundamental freedoms.

People may experience more than one form of discrimination. A person may experience discrimination because of his or her health status and because of his or her race, gender identity or sexual orientation, compounding the effects on the individual and the wider community.

Laws – such as laws on sex work, same-sex sexual relations, the use or possession of drugs for personal use and the non-disclosure, exposure or transmission of HIV – may discriminate by criminalizing conduct or identity.

Other laws may prevent people from accessing benefits or services. Girls may not be allowed to go to school if they are pregnant or women may not be able to access financial services without their husband’s permission. Laws may also impose parental consent for adolescents to access health services or restrict the entry, stay and residence of people living with HIV.

In 2020, 35 countries retained the death penalty for drug offences. In at least 67 countries, drug use or consumption and/or possession of drugs for personal use is a criminal offence.

States have a moral and legal obligation – under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights treaties, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international obligations – to remove disscriminatory laws and to enact laws that protect people from discrimination.

Some of the rights that people can use to contest discriminatory laws include the following:

  • The right to equal treatment before the law.
  • The right to an education.
  • The right to economic opportunities.
  • The right to privacy.
  • The right to dignity.
  • The right to health.
  • The right to association.
  • The right to a fair trial.

Everyone has a responsibility to hold states accountable, call for change and contribute to efforts to remove discriminatory laws. The first steps to making a change are to know the law, recognize that laws can discriminate and highlight discriminatory laws to others.

 

Drug Decriminalisation: Progress or Political Red Herring?

From the INPUD website

Over the past decade there have been increasing claims that the world is moving towards a critical turning point in international drug policy, based on a growing recognition that governments must consider alternative approaches to drug policy which include decriminalisation. While this shift has been hailed as a sign of progress by many, INPUD believes there are still important and overlooked questions regarding the extent to which the needs and rights of people who use drugs are being prioritised in countries that have decriminalised drug use. In 2018, INPUD published a ground-breaking analysis of the Portuguese decriminalisation model – Is Decriminalisation Enough? Drug User Community Voices from Portugal – which for the first time assessed the impact of decriminalisation of Portugal from the perspectives of people who use drugs. The report noted how “interactions with the state and the police, and issues of violence, social exclusion, stigmatisation, and discrimination, are often entirely omitted from discussion and analysis of decriminalisation”.

INPUD is excited to present Drug Decriminalisation: Progress or Political Red Herring? This report, like our previous report on Portugal, is intended to open up the debate on decriminalisation and make clear the expectations people who use drugs have for future action on drug policy reform. Most importantly, it includes a call for full decriminalisation without sanctions as the new baseline for measuring progress on decriminalisation in the future.

Decriminalisation is often discussed as if there is only one model, leading to a view that decriminalisation anywhere equals progress. However, there are many different models of decriminalisation in operation, all with different impacts. This report was published because we believe current reforms have not gone far enough. This situation means that in the overwhelming majority of countries, people who use drugs continue to be criminalised, punished, and stigmatised despite decriminalisation. Furthermore, no existing reviews of decriminalisation models have specifically included the perspective of people who use drugs in their analysis, a glaring oversight which reflects the historical exclusion of the voices of people who use drugs within policy discussions.

INPUD believes it is time to disrupt the misconception that decriminalisation efforts unquestionably represent progress when they have been developed with little or no consultation with people who use drugs. This report amplifies the voices of people who use drugs through a series of interviews conducted with members of the community and their representatives in countries that have implemented various approaches to decriminalisation. Our hope is that this report can support peer-led advocacy efforts towards more inclusive, progressive, participatory and transparent drug policies which fully recognise the human dignity of all people who use drugs.

To read the report, please follow this link>>>.

 

COVID-19 and people who use drugs

What specific risks are people who use drugs (PWUD) likely to face during the COVID-19 pandemic? What services will they need? How will professionals working with this group adapt on the frontline? These are among the questions raised and answered in a new EMCDDA briefing.

The briefing offers information about:

  • Context – the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) in the EU
  • What are the particular risks for people who use drugs (PWUD) during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Underlying chronic medical conditions are associated with some forms of drug use and increase the risk of developing severe illnesses
  • The risk of drug overdose may be increased among PWUD who are infected with COVID-19
  • Sharing drug-using equipment may increase the risk of infection
  • Crowded environments increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19
  • Risks of disruption in access to drug services, clean drug-using equipment and vital medications
  • Implementing prevention measures against transmission of COVID-19 in settings used by PWUD
  • Guaranteeing continuity of care during the pandemic
  • Ensuring service continuity
  • Service provider protection during the pandemic – important interventions to consider

The briefing is available at the EMCDDA website following this link>>>

NGO sign-on letter

On the occasion of the 26th International Harm Reduction Conference, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) has worked with various partners to draft a sign-on letter, calling on the United Nations and governments worldwide to take urgent action to address the ongoing health and human rights crisis among people who use drugs.

IDPC are seeking as many NGO sign-ons as possible until Friday 26th April. The letter will then be shared with governments, UN officials and the media when the Conference starts on Sunday.

The letter is currently being translated in French, Spanish and Russian. The translated versions will be shared as soon as they are ready.

To read full the draft letter follow this link>>>

If you would like to sign on to the letter, please send the name of your organisation to Marie Nougier (mnougier@idpc.net) by Friday 26th April, noon (UK time).

Please, share this information very widely with your NGO colleagues so that we can get as much support as possible to put pressure on our governments!