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Towards a human rights and public health approach to drug control policies

Member States must “optimise human rights protection in the implementation of drug control policies”, while adopting “a public health approach”, the PACE Standing Committee said today, meeting by videoconference.

There is strong evidence suggesting that purely repressive policies have been counterproductive and have led to large-scale human rights abuses, including consequences in terms of public health, violence and corruption, discrimination, stigmatisation, disproportionate sentencing, and prison overcrowding, the parliamentarians stressed.

By adopting a resolution, based on the report by Hannah Bardell (United Kingdom, NR), the parliamentarians called for “indicators of the effectiveness of drug policies in meeting international human rights obligations” and for “accurate, reliable and objective data collection methods on the effects of these policies on health, crime and equality”.

They also called on member States to promote education on the health risks of drugs (especially among young people), and to use risk reduction as well as treatment and rehabilitation services to combat their harmful effects. According to the adopted text, arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as the use of excessive force and disproportionate sentencing against people who use drugs should be prohibited.

Finally, the Standing Committee recommended that the Committee of Ministers ensure that mandate of the Pompidou Group (Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs), under review as part of work towards a revised Statute in 2021, “fully supports a human rights and public health approach to drug policy in Europe”.