EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR STATEMENT

Remarks of UNODC Executive Director at the International Narcotics Control Board Side Event on "The need for proportionality: State responses to drug-related offences"

Vienna, 16 March 2017 - My warm thanks to INCB for holding this event on a very important topic.

The international drug control conventions allow States Parties to provide alternative measures with regard to conviction or punishment in appropriate cases of a minor nature, including for people with drug use disorders who have come in contact with the justice system.

These provisions are further reinforced by United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice, including:

· The Tokyo Rules, which represents a longstanding commitment by Member States to promote non-custodial measures and offers detailed guidance on the implementation of alternatives to conviction and punishment;

· The Bangkok Rules, which provide guidance on gender-sensitive alternatives to imprisonment; and

· The Nelson Mandela Rules for the treatment of prisoners, which also address services and care for prisoners with drug dependence or HIV.

In the UNGASS outcome document, Member States committed themselves to promoting proportionate national sentencing policies, practices and guidelines for drug-related offences.

The outcome document further encourages the use of alternatives to incarceration in cases of an appropriate nature and in accordance with the three international drug control conventions and relevant UN standards and norms, and underlines the importance of  ensuring access to treatment of drug use disorders also for those incarcerated.

In view of these commitments, the international community can only benefit from the sharing of lessons learned and experiences with sentencing policies for drug-related offences that seek to apply the principle of proportionality between the severity of penalties and the gravity of offences, considering both mitigating and aggravating circumstances.

This event is therefore both needed and timely.

INCB has provided clear and steady guidance on issues of proportionality and alternatives to conviction or punishment in line with the international drug control conventions, including most recently in its 2016 Annual Report.

I share the views of the Board, and I join you in discouraging countries from applying the death penalty to drug-related offences.

UNODC's mandate encompasses justice, the rule of law and health, and the Office is well placed to support Member States in developing and implementing proportionate policies and responses, and fostering the close coordination needed between justice, health and social service sectors.

With our partners at WHO, we launched a new initiative on the "Treatment and care of persons with drug use disorders in contact with the criminal justice system" at the CND last year.

As part of this initiative, we are preparing a handbook with examples and good practices from different countries in using treatment for drug use disorders as an alternative to criminal justice sanctions and imprisonment.

Proportionate responses and alternatives to conviction or punishment, using such measures as treatment, education, aftercare, rehabilitation and social reintegration, can help promote public health and public safety.

They can have a decisive and positive impact on the recovery and reintegration of people with drug use disorders, who account for a considerable part of the global prison population.

They can also help to address prison overcrowding, and potentially prevent the recruitment of vulnerable individuals in detention by criminals and terrorists. 

UNODC, as ever, remains committed and engaged in supporting Member States in their efforts to implement proportionate and effective policies and responses for drug-related offences.

Thank you.

For further information please contact:

David Dadge
Spokesperson, UNODC
Telephone: (+43 1) 26060-5629
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5629
Email: david.dadge[at]unvienna.org

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