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June 2010
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Another Way Drug War Policies Lead to Death

There are so many ways that the drug war is destructive, but here’s another — the use of the death penalty for drug crimes in a number of countries around the world.

The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has often claimed to be “concerned” about the use of the death penalty in drug crimes, yet has failed to do anything about it. And drug policy reformers have noted that countries like China routinely execute large numbers of drug offenders on the global anti-drug day.

Now the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) is making a case for the complicity of the U.N. and individual countries that support the drug war in those deaths.

The United Nations, the European commission and individual states including Britain are flouting international human rights law by funding anti-drug crime measures that are inadvertently leading to the executions of offenders, according to a report seen by the Guardian.

The International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA), a non-governmental organisation that advocates less punitive approaches to drugs policy globally, says it has gathered evidence revealing “strong links” between executions for drugs offences and the funding of specific drug enforcement operations by international agencies.

It says programmes aimed at shoring up local efforts to combat drug trafficking and other offences are being run “without appropriate safeguards” that could prevent serious human rights violations in countries that retain the death penalty.

The report concludes that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime ( “are all actively involved in funding and/or delivering technical assistance, legislative support and financial aid intended to strengthen domestic drug enforcement activities in states that retain the death penalty for drug offences.

It’s an interesting (and, I think, valid) point. Not sure how much effect the argument would have here in the states, where so many still have a love affair with the government killing people, but in more civilized countries, the notion that drug policy props up execution regimes could be a little disturbing.

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3 comments to Another Way Drug War Policies Lead to Death

  • Cannabis

    The 37 page IHRA report may be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/9Ex9bL

  • claygooding

    The fact that our own International branch of the ONDCP is just as guilty of funding drug agencies in countries with the death sentence for drug offenses,I expect no reaction at all from them about this.
    It is probably why our leaders cannot get real pushy when confronting other countries about human rights violations.

  • Paul

    I agree there will be little effect in the states, but the argument could get some traction in Europe.