Drug users cannot be treated as criminals


Yury Fedotov. Photo: ONU/Rick Bajornas (archives)

Drug use harms communities and erodes the social fabric that holds us together, but users can not be treated as criminals. With these words, the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, attended the event "Narcotics: problems and solutions to a global problem" in the Vatican City on Wednesday (23). The meeting was organized by Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorond at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and included the participation of Queen Sylvia of Sweden as well as scientists and academics.

Recalling the message of Francis Pope during the UN General Assembly in September, Fedotov said that "the words threw light on the huge variety of negative impacts that illegal drugs bring to peace, security, development, health and human rights throughout the world."

The UNODC director said that the UNGASS Special Session on Drugs in April helped to strengthen a shared accountability framework for collective action against these threats. One of the biggest challenges for him is helping to free many people, especially young people, who are involved "in a spiral of poverty, drugs, lack of treatment and opportunities."

Adopted during the event, the UNGASS document also underscored the importance of three international conventions for drug control. For Fedotov, the document contains a series of operational recommendations for human rights, youth, children, women and communities, as well as addressing emerging challenges such as psychoactive substances.

Fedotov also emphasized the document's strong ties to Sustainable Development. He said Agenda 2030 made it clear that in the Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 16, dealing with drugs helps "to ensure healthy lives and promotes peaceful and inclusive societies as part of overall efforts for sustainable development."

The head of UNODC said the agency is committed to "advance in the prevention and treatment of drug and issues related to HIV and hepatitis." For him, people suffering from drug-induced disorders should not be treated as criminals, but as victims who need medical and social services.

"We thank our UN Online Volunteer, Juliana Nogueira, for her contribution to the translation of this article".  Juliana is an online volunteer mobilised through  www.onlinevolunteering.org ". 

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