Home » UNGASS roundtable 3: Cross-cutting issues: Drugs and human rights, youth, women, children and communities

UNGASS roundtable 3: Cross-cutting issues: Drugs and human rights, youth, women, children and communities

GRULAC – H.E. Ana H. Chacon, Vice President, Costa Rica – Costa Rica never saw drug use as a crime, but as a problem to be dealt with from a health perspective. We didn’t put people in prison for using drugs. In 2002, passed a law to use 60% of resources from seized drugs to provide treatment. We established an alcoholism and drug dependence institute and thus have a great deal of experience in dealing with populations vulnerable to this scourge. Some people needed an immediate human-rights based approach, in conformity with the main objective of the three conventions. Most urgent population was women deprived of liberty because they had committed drug offences. Study showed that 23.5% of women sentenced for drug offences were sentenced for drug trafficking, and were the head of households, had been living in poverty, were responsible for one to four children, were uneducated, were struggling to overcome difficult economic situations, and most had experienced domestic violence. Easy to judge but most of these people left their children in situations that exasperated the problems. Needed to come up with a law to provide funds to these women and children in order to break this cycle of children going to prison because their parents went to prison. Minimum of six years in prison for drug trafficking without taking into account the nature of the crime and the situation of the trafficker. Focus on including a proportionality approach for women. Prefer to focus on prevention rather than incarceration. Sought to include proportionality approach to reduce sentences for trafficking drugs. Currently sentence is 8-20 years. Brought it down to 3-8 years. Still have to look at alternative sentences when traffickers have other mitigating factors, and especially if they are first time offenders. Created a network to help support these women. If we free them from prison, she will have a criminal record and be unable to get a job, and thus return to the black market. Have to help them through various institutions. Have the joint social work institution, institute for women, and institute for learning provide them with new opportunities. Help them become entrepreneurs. First step towards recognizing these gender based issues. Deal with both women and men, but they have different histories. Can’t ignore the gender based approach. This model places Costa Rica as the first in the region where there is a public network and strategic partnerships to help these women and to address the issues of vulnerabilities that these women live in. Through a procedure everyone has access to the ombudsmen and are screened for risk and vulnerability, based on where women live, and then referred to this network.

WEOG – H.E. Gabriel Wikström, Minister for Health Care, Public Health and Sport, Sweden – Feminist government considers the needs of all citizens, lets gender equality have a formative impact on all decisions, and makes for better policies, including drug policy. Means developing gender specific programs, gender specific data, and meeting gender specific needs. Regarding the death penalty, for Sweden, the EU, and many other countries, opposition to death penalty is strong and unequivocal in all circumstances. Regret the missed opportunity to send the message that death penalty is never appropriate for drug crimes and fails to act as a deterrent. Right to health is also relevant. Must ensure access to prevention, treatment, risk and harm reduction, and support services. Human rights are universal and thus also apply to those who use drugs. Working in dialogue with those who use drugs provides us with invaluable information. Must be a key priority from now on. Important rights of children. Prevention of drug use is a key pillar in drug policy. Must support children whose parents used drugs or are in the drug trade. Welcome specific reference to children’s rights in UNGASS declaration. Must engage in dialogue with relevant partners on next steps. This UNGASS can approve the way forward to human rights based and health oriented drug policy. Step in the right direction and towards 2019. Must continue to mainstream different perspectives, as this is the only way we can understand the cross cutting nature of the drug phenomenon.

Asia-Pacific Group – Dr. Dyah Setia Utami, SpKJ, MARs, Deputy Head of the National Narcotics Board, Republic of Indonesia – Number of drug offenders increased in Indonesia. In response, we have put in place a balanced strategy of demand and supply reduction. Prevention and rehabilitation play a critical role and also empower drug addicts to help them reintegrate. Basic needs of youth in rehabilitation centres are fulfilled, including education. Program has positive results. Number of drug users has fallen. Active participation and support of families included in this. When crimes are involving women and youth, protection of their rights must be guaranteed in accordance with national law. Objective to ensure right to health services for drug users. Indonesia seen by transnational organized criminal groups as potential market for illegal drugs. They interrupt all levels of society. Distort social and economic life. Many lives are lost. It is important that the rights of all individuals are protected, including from crime groups. Drug problem is very complex. Must adopt a comprehensive approach, including right of children, women, youth, and family through strong law enforcement response.

Maria-Goretti Ane delivers powerful statement on the impact of punitive drug policies on human rights. Photo by Scott Bernstein.

Ms. Maria-Goretti Ane, Justice for All, IDPC, West Africa Drug Policy Network, Ghana  I am grateful for the opportunity to make my voice heard and the chance to share my grassroots experience in addressing drug related issues.

Mr. Chair, over the years we have seen or heard of the devastating consequences of the drug war on people who use drugs. This ranges from police raids in so call ghettos to arrest people who use drugs. Those often suspected to be using drugs are given some inhuman treatment merely because they are either using or possessing drugs. As a result, innocent people are injured, and some even lose their lives.

We have often forgotten that individuals who use drugs are humans, and they deserve to be treated as humans, not waste or shoved somewhere or being denied services at every bend, and constantly being harassed and arrested. It is time to put people, health, and human rights at the center of global drug policy, which is very key to protecting people who use drugs.

Mr. Chair, distinguished delegates, it is deeply worrying that the right to life is constantly compromised by hostile supply reduction activities that lead to death sentences for drug offenders. Mr. Chair, the death penalty can only be applied under international law for “most serious crimes.” The death penalty is not in line with human rights obligations and in my opinion must be condemned by all Member States.

Despite this, the past few months have seen a revival in the use of the death penalty for drug offenses. Some states have executed drug offenders in ever increasing numbers, while others have sought to reintroduce capital punishment for drug crimes.

Over time, the Member States, and civil society and UN agencies have raised serious concerns about extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions carried out in the name of drug control efforts by some countries. It has been well documented that police and military forces engage in extrajudicial killings, torture and ill-treatment, and arbitrary detention.

The negative impact of the criminalizing people who use drugs continues to be an area of serious concerns. Individuals have a right to access life-saving health services without fear of punishment or discrimination. However, the fear of criminal sanctions drives people who use drugs away from life-saving harm reduction services, leading to infections and premature death from HIV and Hepatic C. This notion has been recognized by many UN agencies such as, UNODC, WHO, and the UNDP. There are even occasions where users willingly go to health services to seek help and upon the discovery that they are on drugs they are stigmatized and driven away.

The story has not been different when it comes to our women. Indeed the issue of, human rights, women, youth, children are strongly connected. Statistically, one can predict a positive correlation. Globally, our women are never the center of the discussion and yet they are often faced withthe greatest social stigma than men because they fail to fulfill society’s standard of feminine morality as well as their traditional role as the stabilizing force in the family. Women lack gender-sensitive treatment facilities which sometimes lead to a deficit in women’s access to treatment.

Drug use is still within the “moral debate,” and this makes the promotion of the needs of women who use drugs globally an enormous task. Society thinks that women who use are a disgrace and deserve to be punished. This further explains why the war on drugs is considered acceptable and easily implemented in many parts of the region.

There are global reports of female drug users whose Human Rights have been grossly abused sometimes by police officers where they made to perform sexual favors to negotiate their release by some police officers . We need to ensure that the human rights of women who use drugs are not violated, by providing access to justice (including through legal services), prevention, treatment and other social services. Adopt smart policing measures to encourage people to access public health services.

Most women go to jail for just minor, non-violent offenses. Some of these women who go to jail are often breadwinners, and when that happens, the family suffers. Children are left to fend for themselves; some even end up on the Streets.

Even in cases where children who are using drugs need to seek health services, mothers are at the forefront, and they bear the brunt of the pain and are often given derogatory names in society because their children are using drugs.

Children are often at the forefront of political justifications for drug control but the reality is that children’s rights have been increasingly violated through drug control measures while drug use and drug-related harms among children have continued to rise. We have seen instances where children who inject drugs are denied access to harm reduction, based on their age, they are beaten and sexually abused in drug detention centers, and some street children are subjected to police violence due to suspected involvement in drug dealing.

In places where we have Ariel fumigation, it damages children’s physical and mental health. It is a tragic irony that the right intentions of many who defend the status quo, with the aim of protecting and defending the rights of young people, have in practice exposed them to dramatically increased levels of risk and actual harm.

The issues raised above are only a fraction of the widespread violations of human rights that have been documented in the context of drug control policies. The empirical evidence that underlines this point is extensive and damning. UNGASS 2016 should ensure a more UN system wide coherence on the drugs issues. The UN system on drug policy needs to be built on solid human rights, health and development principles. Currently, there is no consensus on drugs and human rights – and huge disparities in positions and practices. The CND like always to talk about a consensus, on how to respond, but what we see lately is a fractured consensus if not broken on some topics especially on human rights.

To conclude, I will like to leave you with a quote from the former UN General Secretary, Kofi Annan, who said and I quote “Drugs have destroyed many people, but wrong government policies have destroyed many more.” Thank you.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – Suppressed excitement because there is discernable progress in the outcome document. Clear reference made to human rights and commitment to human rights based approach. Numerous references to health care and treatment, including medication assisted therapy and injection equipment. Intense frustration because we could be making much faster progress. This was the occasion for decriminalizing drug use to be included. When drugs are decriminalized and harm reduction is provided, people who use drugs are less likely to resort to criminal behaviour as a result of drug dependence. Would have liked to see reference to obstacles that criminalization creates when people who use drugs are trying to access health services. Would have liked to see explicit use of the term “harm reduction.” Would have liked to see reference to the right to health. Lack of reference to the use of the death penalty. Outcome document doesn’t refer to human rights violations like extrajudicial killings, torture. Twelve UN agencies called for closure of compulsory treatment centres, but there is no reference to this in the outcome document. Does not address discrimination experienced by ethnic minorities and women. Fails to note the serious consequences that can follow from conviction for drug use or other minor offences, such as obstacles to food assistance, student financial aid, ability to travel, employment, and housing, all of which further isolated the person from society. Does not include reference that children who use drugs shouldn’t be subject to prosecution. Language on rights of indigenous people is vague. Should be explicit that traditional uses are permitted. Finding consensus is hard, and we appreciate the progress. Hope the UNGASS serves as a platform to inject urgency into this issue. Full speech available here.

Colombia – Nothing in conventions permits these human rights violations. Drug policy can’t be assessed on good intentions, but on its outcomes. Intention to find a drug free world, which is the goal of the current drug war, has been accompanied with a repressive focus that has affected the most vulnerable. Shouldn’t continue to saturate our prisons with people who have committed minor crimes. Not the best means to prevent small growers who are led to these activities because of a hostile environment. Nor is it easy to understand that problematic users should be held in prisons or subject to forced labour as a way to treat them. UNGA emphasized that the drug problem should be dealt with in alignment with the UN Charter and respect for human rights. States obliged to do everything they can to protect their citizens. This doesn’t mean we should reduce efforts to address criminal networks, but should design policies that are effective and adopt strategies to deal with different parts of the supply chain in proportional ways. Our debate must lead to changes in drug policies. Shouldn’t dream for a drug free world, but aim for one that is free of its abuse while being respectful of human rights.

Mexico – Importance of providing proper health care for female drug users and of proportional sentencing. In Mexico, more than 90% of women incarcerated are first time offenders. They are sometimes imprisoned without even being convicted. Sent to remote prisons for 7-8 years sometimes. Working on issue of proportionality and providing treatment and reintegration for them and their children. Globally, only one in every three drug users are women, but they are more stigmatized than men and are subject to domestic violence. Lose their right to freedom and security. Working towards reducing demand and supply, as well as improving our penal justice system to account for gender specific needs. More appropriate policies useful to the resolution. SDGs give us more clarity in terms of coming up with more effective drug policies. Endorse Mexico’s commitment to mainstream gender in development of all drug policies and programs.

EU – Opposed to arbitrary arrest, torture, and all other treatments not in line with respect for human rights. Right of drug users to give informed consent is paramount. Opposed to death penalty in all circumstances, including for drug offences. Today, number of countries prescribe death penalty for drug offences and impose it as a monetary sanction. Penalties are not proportional and don’t act as a deterrent and the errors made are irreversible. Death penalty for drug offences is against norms of international law. Regret that outcome document did not include mention to the death penalty. Call on all member states using the death penalty to impose a moratorium as a step towards abolition. Take into account gender and age. Needs are different and must be addressed adequately.

USA – Evidence-based prevention strategies, spectrum of treatment options, broad range of recovery support services. Age appropriate measures tailored to needs of children build resilience. Focus on needs of women and girls. Heavy emphasis on incarceration over treatment does not address the problem. Must ensure rights of vulnerable populations are protected and that all who seek treatment receive it. Opiate prescription crisis being combatted through better prescribing practices and naloxone. Strong support for issue highlights importance of issue globally. Drug treatment programs must focus on recovery and on concurrent disorders. Public health approach with prevention, treatment, and recovery is central to combating the problem. Coordination is essential.

Singapore – Two groups of individuals I would like to focus on. First, youth are our future and our priority is to build a drug free Singapore for them. Focus on preventive drug education as a first line of defence. Reach out to audience in a variety of ways. Message is to say no to drugs. Eradications efforts. Second group is our families. Want to minimize number of families whose lives are destroyed by drugs. Play a key role in rehabilitation of users. Harm prevention means working closely with community to help drug users kick their addiction. Seek to protect rights of families and youth. Recognize that other countries have other approaches. Each country should be free to develop its own approach.

Thailand – Gender sensitivity in criminal justice system is very important. Work closely with countries to promote elimination of violence against children.

Israel – Services for women and youth help them quit addiction and promote reintegration. 40% of women and 60% of children complete rehabilitation successfully in Israel. Human rights are essential.

China – Attach great importance to legal rights of drug offenders and takers. Take comprehensive, balanced measures in response. Against putting human rights out of context, as this would weaken law enforcement effects. To reduce the damages of drug use to individuals, families, and societies is to guarantee the rights of the great majority of society to be free of damages of drugs. Drug control measures must be placed in balance between guaranteed human rights of majority of people and human rights of those drug offenders. International drug control policies emphasize putting people in the centre and solving the problem from a public health approach. That doesn’t mean we lose sight of the damages of drug issue. Abusing drugs isn’t only an issue of public health. It has other various complicated drug factors. Does not only lead to public health problem, but also public security and social problems. Resolving drug issues cannot be received only through measures of public health. Abusing drugs and addiction must be put into context towards the drug takers themselves, their families, and society. Comprehensive, balanced solutions should be our aim. Alternatives to punishment option in criminal justice has meant some countries have suggested using alternatives to punishment for minor offenders. Based on their domestic systems. Informing international drug policies must respect basic national condition of individual member states. Countries encouraged to adopt policies applicable to their national realities. Do not have the international obligation to abolish the death penalty, and have the right to decide on the penalty for drug-related offences in accordance with the UN conventions and national law.

Brazil – Must recognize ethnic groups that have been historically prevented from public policies. Young males of African descent continue to be prosecuted as drug traffickers even if they are drug users. Have to consider how different racial groups are affected by our drug policies. Had an event on this at CND.

Italy – Protection of human rights must be an integral part of international drug policies. Place the human being and their health at the centre of drug policies. Examine all these shortcomings with specific attention on vulnerable groups in society, like women and children. More vulnerable members of society are more frequently subject to human rights violations. Access to controlled medicines directly related to the right to treatment. Proportionality is necessary for criminal sanctions. Punitive approaches targeting drug users violate the spirit of the drug treaties and are ineffective. Drug users need right to adequate health care, right to life, lack of discrimination. Use of death penalty for drug offenders is a clear violation of human rights. Regret that outcome document doesn’t address this. Encourage states using the death penalty for drug offences to adopt a moratorium on the death penalty, as a first step towards abolition.

UK – Ensuring access to treatment options is essential, particularly tailored to individual circumstances. Proportionate criminal justice system is essential. Includes alternatives to incarceration for minor offences, and integration of treatment and support services. Resolution on proportionality adopted by the CND. Must account for aggravating and mitigating factors in sentencing. In UK, achieved through independent guidelines. Call on UNODC to take steps to support member states in implementing an effective, proportionate criminal justice response. UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principal. Urge all member states still using the death penalty to abolish this practice. Hold international agencies accountable to this and all other human rights obligations.

Sudan – Reducing supply and demand, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts, and reducing the risks linked to drugs. Treatment and combatting drugs has seen social programs developed for young people. Support policies to combat marginalization. Social security policies provide financial support for young drug addicts and those that are outside the labour force. Policy for empowerment of women and enhance the status of the family. Policy to encourage banks to provide microcredit for alternative development. Hope to see enhanced international cooperation in the future.

Argentina – Financial resources have been wasted on the drug war. Only result has been an impressive negative result. Encourage states to change their criminal systems so that those who consume drugs are not subject to any criminal prosecution. These individuals should be embraced by the health system. Response should never be the criminal law. State our opposition to capital punishment for all crimes. Must put an end to these measures, which include life in prison. War should not be on addicts, but must deal with drug traffickers. Women represent 75% of imprisoned population in federal prison in our country. Committed crimes for small quantities of rugs. Not drug traffickers. Need to talk about the ethnic problem and continue to use the penal law in this way. 80% of those imprisoned are poor young people. One colour, one gender, one economic situation, and one age group. Most vulnerable group in our population. Children are suffering the most. Clearly anti-drug laws have failed. That is why we are meeting and talking for such a long time. Mustn’t just put an end to death penalty. Must also out an end to some sentences, such as forced disappearances. This should be a policy that respects human rights.

Portugal – Portugal is a member of the HRC and is a party to human rights treaties and optional protocols. The best contribution we have to offer to this debate is the results of our policy, which suggests that states having nothing to fear and a lot to gain from humane drug policies.

El Salvador – Support for human rights. We have implemented an education and development policy from early childhood. Initiated program to prevent drug abuse and alcohol consumption. Implemented in neighbourhoods of great risk. Aim is to enhance the role of the family in terms of rehabilitation. Therapeutic programs to educate young people. Without proper, decent work and helping them enjoy new forms of life, we believe it is difficult to save young people affected by drugs in the long term.

Community Legal Aids Institute – In the past decade, I have learned from a person who has been on death row for ten years. He was tortured and his case was fabricated, yet he did not give up. Humbled to comprehend the true meaning from two human beings whose lives were spent in prison. Both had shown great human characters. Someone who had paranoid schizophrenia never gave up until the end. He never had competent legal representation or mental health treatment. Realized he was going to be executed just two hours before he was meant to be executed. Death penalty is not simply wrong, it is useless, it is senseless and it must stop. Despite its harm and lack of purpose, execution doesn’t seem to stop. The opposite of addiction is connection. Human beings have a natural need to bond. Let’s fix our relationship with humane policies. We can do better than just angry. Human kind can do better than angry policies. We can fix these policies.

Malaysia – Commitment to respecting, protecting, and promoting all human rights are evidenced by improving our treatment program with more client centred programs and support services. Access to treatment also in prisons. Recognizing the specific needs of women. There is a dedicated treatment centre for women ensuring they have access to counselling, including that which is needed during pregnancy.

South Africa – Going through a number of challenges, including the issue of drugs. Experience of losing mothers, young women, and children to the death penalty, even though we have no death penalty. Only crime they committed is being poor, born in a rural area, and someone taking advantage of their being naive. Issue of drugs has always taken a social and human rights face. Experience diverse and dynamic challenges in the area of drugs. Anytime we make progress, new designer drugs come into the market. Treatment and training of those in treatment doesn’t have the ability to evolve and respond to the drug space. The outcome document needs to allocate and attach resources to it. As we benefit in the economic growth of the oceans, they are being used to traffic drugs. As we call for abolition of the death penalty, to what extent will we make it possible for women who are serving drug offences to serve their time in their countries of origin?

Uruguay – Ensure we have a human rights and health based approach. Policies must be developed and implemented in full observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and protect health and welfare of persons. Welcome special session in roundtables on human rights. Time to take stock in addressing this problem. Punitive and reactionary approach led to great damage, including increased drug trafficking and violence. Proven to be ineffective in providing healthcare associated with drug use. Come up with a national strategy since 2011 that gives priority to preventive, and health approach to drug policy. Policy for regulating cannabis seeks to promote public health of our population at large through risk and harm reduction. Bridge the gap between state and users by providing appropriate information on risks involved and promoting treatment, rehabilitation, and social integration. Must continue to work towards ultimate aim of treaties, which is health and welfare of everyone. Must do away with the death penalty.

Ecuador – Pardoned over a thousand drug traffickers, mostly women couriers. Most were single mothers. Problem was the fruit of a barbaric drug policy and law. Addressing the issue from a gender perspective. Mothers in prison leave children unprotected and prone to being incarcerated. There is a grey zone involved in drug trafficking. In favour of the abolition of the death penalty.

Kuwait – Would like to live in a drug free society. Put in policies to limit this destructive scourge. We have awareness campaigns through media and social platforms. Give special attention to rehabilitation and treatment centres. Have pioneering experiencing in this field. Follow the most recent signs of treating drugs in rehabilitation. Need an international commitment to overcome the problem of drugs.

INCB – Steps need to be taken to implement the Convention on the Rights of a Child. In 2015, UNODC published findings of study on women drug users in India. INCB has recommended expansion of services provided to women in the future.

Active Sobriety Foundation – We have all seen how alcohol and tobacco has targeted the youth. Drugs should not cause harm at school, workplace, or home.

Australia – Death penalty is an inhumane form of punishment. Disappointed that outcome document did not include our proposals. Death penalty is irreversible. There is no conclusive evidence of its deterrent value, and in fact there is evidence that it does not act as a deterrent. Urge states to at least establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Haven’t convinced everyone of this. Protect the rights of people subject to death penalty, such as right to be free from torture. States have ended the application of the death penalty, and others decided not to apply it. Must persist in demanding this. Far too many people are the victims of this practice.

International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy – We have heard a lot about the death penalty this week. States that continue to kill in the name of protecting health and welfare of citizens can no longer use that defence. UK claimed their drug policy is human rights compliant. Someone is stopped and searched for drugs every minute in the UK, a racist practice. States are not the arbiters of their own human rights compliance. Human rights are not abstract terms. Before claiming compliance, ask those affected and open discussion to scrutiny. Imagine a household where social workers are concerned about the child because their parents are using illicit drugs. A criminal sanction does not make that household better off. By the next CND, I want just one state to have carried out a consultation on human rights compliance in consultation with affected groups. Takes just one state to lead.

WHO – Drug use disorders are first and foremost health conditions that are preventable and treatable. Right to be provided health care at the same level as those without drug use disorders. Women, particularly during pregnancy, fail to receive adequate treatment, largely because of stigma. Nothing in conventions requires member states to introduce policies that violate public health and human rights. Working closely with UN agencies to scale up implementation of evidence-based prevention. Strong advocate for public health.

Benin – Not able to win the fight alone. Committed in all efforts to ensure that countries have integrated strategies. Regional cooperation. Critical assessment to improve upon strategy to deal with this scourge. Seeking to come up with new integrated national policy document. Introduce a new image. Against the death penalty. Urge all states to identify alternative punishments for people involved in trafficking.

Indonesia – Always committed to efforts to advancing human rights. As member of HRC, we translate commitment into concrete action. It is beyond dispute that narcotic drugs pose a threat to health, human rights, and development of individuals.

Russia – Difficult to agree that there is a fundamental right to the abuse of drugs and taking part in activities associated with the drug trade, and introducing other people to this viscous cycle. Right to life and health, particularly for children, has not come without convincing result in resolving the global drug problem. Response must have a comprehensive and balanced approach and be based on the conventions. Drug dependence is a complex and multidimensional social and health problem. Convinced that treaties are important tools for achieving human rights.

UNODC – Working to prevent drug-related crime, protect children, and collect data. Drug use is primarily a public health concern. Positive results can be achieved by increasing access to HIV prevention treatment and care services. Requires qualified health personnel. Access to treatment should not stop when people are incarcerated. Continuity of services must be ensured in prison settings. Drug treatment needs to be voluntary and evidence informed. Must move away from compulsory treatment centres. Proportionality is needed in criminal justice responses. Overuse of imprisonment is counterproductive and creates risks of human rights violations. Death penalty is an obstacle to international cooperation, and a violation of human rights. Support its abolition, or moratorium as a step towards abolition. Gender sensitive services are needed. Given that imprisonment has a detrimental effect on women and their families, alternatives should be considered. Children need policies that take into account their best interests. Step up our efforts to collect and analyze data that is disaggregated by gender and age. States must be informed by facts. Only by promoting effective, human rights complaint, and gender sensitive drug policy that we will be able to achieve progress on the SDGs.

UN Women – Not only gender sensitive, but also gender responsive. Policies have to respond to gender differences in causes and consequences of women involvement in drugs. Increasing level of women in prison for increasing period of time destabilizes families. Stigma associated with drug use serves as a barrier for women who use drugs to access treatment. Need to improve our understanding of the needs of women who use drugs, so policies do not perpetuate discrimination against women. Drug related sentencing should consider involvement in crimes. Remove barriers to women’s access to treatment and prevention. All responses to drug problems must include women’s leadership and full and active participation. Greater representation of women in justice systems and law enforcement. Hope that implementation of SDGs reinforces the gender responsive approach to the world drug problem.

GRULAC – H.E. Ana H. Chacon, Vice President, Costa Rica – Strategy we have has not led to any results. Having listened to differences between men and women regarding access to justice and entering the drug trade to provide food to their children, must ensure each individual has dignity to prevent vulnerability. Poverty underlying cause of many of these scourges. Invest in mental health and early childhood. Fully oppose violations of human rights or penalties. Lots of pain in this world for those whose dignity has been ignored. Cannot teach a bird to fly in an elevator, nor can you teach someone to have a healthy lifestyle if they are in prison. Prison not an option for having more healthy young people in our society.

Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights – We are on the right track but still have a long way to go ahead of 2019.

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