Drug laws must be amended to ‘combat racial discrimination’, UN experts say

15 March 2019 12:36 wellness desk

In fighting the global drug problem, the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent underscored that States must acknowledge and amend the devastating impact of judicial policies on people of African descent, who are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted, and harshly sentenced for drug crimes, in many countries.

“The global war on drugs has disproportionately targeted people of African descent and disregarded the massive costs to the dignity, humanity and freedom of individuals,” they stressed, ahead of a high-level meeting in Vienna of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which will review the Political Declaration and Plan of Action to combat the illegal trade in drugs.

Countries must redress racial discrimination in law enforcement and accepting stark racial disparities in prosecutions and incarcerations.

“The pretext of fighting the world’s drug problem has been used to justify excessive surveillance, criminalization and the targeting of people of African descent worldwide”, they argued.

According to the experts, people of African descent are “disproportionately penalized and denied access to treatment or alternatives to being locked up”.

Furthermore, despite decades of what they called “enormous investment of resources” worldwide, neither trafficking nor narcotics use have diminished.

The UN experts spelled out: “The war on drugs has operated more effectively as a system of racial control than as a mechanism for combating the use and trafficking of narcotics”.

The criminal justice system reflects racial disparities and stereotypes grounded in history, explained the UN experts, saying that concern over narcotics “cannot excuse racism in the development of policy or the deployment of resources”.

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