Due to restrictions on the number of NGO statements, EHRN were not able to make a statement at the plenary session. This is their statement!
NGO STATEMENT on behalf of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) regarding the Agenda Item 6 (Implementation of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem, item a) demand reduction).
To be presented at the 55th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Plenary Meeting, Vienna, March 13, 2012.
Thank you Madame Chair,
First and foremost, we would like to express our deep gratitude to You, members of the Commission and the Secretariat for the contribution in the organization of 55th Commission on Narcotic Drugs. It is a great honor to speak on behalf of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and we appreciate the opportunity to address the delegates.
With this statement we want to draw the attention of Delegates towards the lack of balance between the law enforcement and health measures. The progress in implementation of the Political Declaration is deterred by criminalization of drug use and drug possession and overregulation of demand reduction services such needle and syringe programs and opioid substitution treatment.
Needle and syringe programs and OST programs in the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia are at best reaching 10% and 3% of people who use drugs correspondingly. Insufficient funding for drug demand reduction services is a major reason for low access to health services in resource limited settings. At the same time, huge proportion of national budgets is spent for implementation of law enforcement measures.
For example, the implementation of drug laws on drug use and drug possession with no intent to supply though punishment of people who use drugs costs more than double the amount spent on drug treatment, such as opioid substitution treatment. In most countries of the region – the treatment as well as other UNAIDS/UNODC/WHO endorsed evidence based drug demand measures are funded by international donors.
Such misbalance between investment into the law enforcement and heath approaches comes at the high cost: in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, neither drug use nor HV epidemics have been contained over the last 10 years, hence fails to achieve the key goals of drug control – contain and reduce non medical drug use and protect the health and wellbeing of societies. It also results in systematic human rights violations – disproportionate sentencing for petty drug crimes, violation of judicial process, restriction of access to health and social services. In recent years, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stated that prohibiting harm reduction services and methadone maintenance treatment is a violation of people’s social rights.
Taking into account the human, social, health and financial cost of implementation of criminalization policies, we call on the Commission to provide comprehensive analysis of drug policy costs versus effects and have a meaningful debate on drug policy reform with involvement of human rights, HIV and drug user community.
We call on the national governments to eliminate criminal sanction for drug use and drug possession with no intent to supply, to prioritize public health measures and provide substantial funding for harm reduction programs.
Thank you Madame Chair.