Update from the Secretary

Charanjit Sharma, Secretary of IDUF was invited to speak at the INCB-UNODC 2015 Report dissemination meeting on 2nd March 2015 on behalf of the PUD community in relation to the launch of the INCB global report.

Excerpts from the presentation – “Esteemed panelists, colleagues and friends. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on behalf of the community of people affected by drugs. I am a member of Indian Drug Users Forum and currently have the privilege to serve as the Secretary. I also manage the Harm Reduction Programme at Alliance India. Our work and my experiences have given me great insights into Drug Use, Harm Reduction and the prevailing policy environment. I would like to share a recent quote from former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan who said – “Drugs are dangerous, but current narcotics policies are an even bigger threat because punishment is given a greater priority than health and human rights. It’s time for regulations that put lives and safety first.”

Prohibition has not even significantly reduced drug use. Studies have consistently failed to establish the existence of a link between the harshness of drug laws and levels of drug use. The widespread criminalization and punishment of people who use drugs, the over-crowded prisons, means that the war on drugs is, in fact a war on drug users — a war on people.

UNGASS 2016 is important to us because the process represents one of the highest level platform from which to influence the strategic direction and content of drug policies.

“I on behalf of drug users in Asia would like to make the following Recommendations: While UNAIDS and WHO recommends decriminalization, including removing penalties for drug use and personal use, and possession of drug paraphernalia, millions of PUD in Asia are routinely imprisoned for such offenses.  We appreciate Kofi Annan’s insightful suggestions recently. He said “First, we must decriminalize personal drug use. The use of drugs is harmful and reducing those harms is a task for the public health system, not the judicial system. This must be coupled with the strengthening of treatment services, especially in middle and low-income countries. Second, we need to accept that a drug-free world is an illusion. We must focus instead on ensuring that drugs cause the least possible harm. Harm reduction measures, such as needle exchange programs, Oral substitution treatment can make a real difference”.

We appeal the INCB to End criminalization of PUD; eliminate the death penalty for offenses and ensure proportional sentencing; Close all compulsory detention centers and scale up voluntary community base drug treatment.  Having said that: We also wish to appreciate the Government of India for ensuring adequate access to controlled substances for medical use. Once again I would like to thank UNODC for giving the opportunity to share our concerns – Thank you!”

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