Wednesday, June 30, 2010

AIDS Conference launches major drug law reform declaration

Hot on the heels of the latest world drug report from the UN, the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna has published a major Declaration presenting a very different point of view, and an online petition endorsing it. The Declaration, written and supported by leading scientists from all parts of the world, lists and condemns the failures of the War on Drugs and calls on the UN to decriminalise, regulate and scale up treatment for problem users.

The battle between prohibitionists and reformers is at a delicate point, with prohibitionists hosting their own summit events in an attempt to buttress the UN-driven War. However their arguments are sounding ever more stale as they increasingly ignore damning evidence and argument that refutes their position.

Some lines from the Declaration which list consequences of the War on Drugs:
• A crisis in criminal justice systems as a result of record incarceration rates in a number of nations. This has negatively affected the social functioning of entire communities. While racial disparities in incarceration rates for drug offences are evident in countries all over the world, the impact has been particularly severe in the US, where approximately one in nine African-American males in the age group 20 to 34 is incarcerated on any given day, primarily as a result of drug law enforcement.

• Stigma towards people who use illicit drugs, which reinforces the political popularity of criminalising drug users and undermines HIV prevention and other health promotion efforts.

• Severe human rights violations, including torture, forced labour, inhuman and degrading treatment, and execution of drug offenders in a number of countries.

• A massive illicit market worth an estimated annual value of US$320 billion. These profits remain entirely outside the control of government. They fuel crime, violence and corruption in countless urban communities and have destabilised entire countries, such as Colombia, Mexico and Afghanistan.

• Billions of tax dollars wasted on a “War on Drugs” approach to drug control that does not achieve its stated objectives and, instead, directly or indirectly contributes to the above harms.
Unfortunately, such evidence of the failure and harms of drug prohibition is often denied by those with vested interests in maintaining the status quo, most notably police and jail industries bloated with drug war funding which would be better spent on health, housing or infrastructure.

Numerous references have been  removed from the above, but are available on the original -- but please, follow the links above and sign this authoritative Declaration!

By contrast, the pro-War UN Report exhaustively documents a massive trade in illicit drugs that is bigger than ever despite prohibition, and is now destabilising several countries, but concludes that we need more of the same by:
building crime prevention into international efforts to foster peace and the rule of law
Never once does the report appear to admit that it is prohibition itself that creates the crime, despite soft-sounding spin from UN drug czar Antonio Maria Costa and other rabid prohibitionists who now frequently mention "harm reduction" in an attempt to disguise their bankrupt ideology of oppression.

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