Uttalande från INPUD dagen innan Brukardagen / International Remembrance Day, lördag 21 Juli 2012.
PROHIBITION IS DEADLY!
Every year people who use drugs around the world take this day as an opportunity to remember their friends, and members of our community who have died needlessly of overdose, of complications arising from Hepatitis-C, from HIV/AIDS, from contaminated heroin, and from the depredations of prohibition. This is our day to remember those who have fallen victim to the war that is being waged, systematically, globally, and deliberately upon our community.
This year too, we remember especially those who have died in those detention centers that masquerade as ‘rehabilitation’ facilities around the world; most notably the 27 who died in the February fire at the ‘Christ is Love’ center and the 14 who died in a fire in a similar facility, the ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’ center in May, both in Lima, Peru – held against their will, behind bars, and often chained.
The roll call of egregious, and often lethal, practice that claims the mantle of drug treatment, or that is carried out in the name of drug control, is too long and varied to document here. We know, and the much welcomed report on the ‘War on Drugs and HIV/AIDS’, from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, makes it abundantly clear, that there is a direct correlation between repressive legal environments in which drug use is criminalised and:
– Higher rates of stigma and discrimination against people who use illegal drugs
– A lack of access to necessary services including NSP and OST
– Inordinately high rates of HIV amongst injecting drug users
We also know that such repressive legal environments make it less likely that those who witness overdoses will call the relevant emergency services, and still less likely that those services will be carrying Naloxone. In this light, we welcome the resolution passed at this years’ Commission on Narcotic Drugs that called upon governments to scale up measures to prevent overdose, including critically, a call for Naloxone to be made easily available.
We remember on this day that overdoses are easily reversible and call for Naloxone to be made readily available and universally distributed along with other injecting equipment at NSPs.
We remember too on this day that in those countries with the most repressive legal environments for people who use drugs, most notably Russia, the U.S., Thailand and China, which have ignored scientific evidence and resisted, or actively refused to implement evidence-based HIV prevention measures for injecting drug users, that the epidemic is claiming lives daily, and runs rampant with prevalence rates of up to 85%, whilst in countries that have relaxed the level of repression and fully implemented harm reduction measures either early or comprehensively, and preferably both, have managed to keep HIV amongst people who inject drugs at low levels. We know that in Russia, in which methadone is illegal, and where NSP is only provided by a few brave NGOs at a level far below that which is needed, 1 in 100 adults are now infected with HIV. In a highly retrograde step, the American Congress recently reinstated the long-standing ban on the use of federal funds for NSPs.
On this International Remembrance Day INPUD calls for:
– A recognition that the war on drug users legitimized by global prohibition has failed by every metric and only resulted in harm, needless death, corruption, and human rights abuses on a systematic scale
– A transparent review of alternatives to punitive prohibition
– The decriminalization of drug use
– The immediate universal provision of Naloxone
– An unequivocal demand from the UN that member states implement the UNAIDS/UNODC/WHO technical guidelines and provide NSP and OST
– A recognition that repressive drug control policies are the major driver of the HIV epidemic amongst injecting drug users and immediate action to redress it.
PROHIBITION IS DEADLY! END THE WAR ON DRUG USERS!