UNGASS summary roundtable 3 on human rights

In the course of the discussion, references were made to the right to life, the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, access to controlled substances for medical purposes, non-discrimination and gender equality, the rights of children, indigenous peoples, the prohibition of arbitrary detention, torture and other forms of inhuman, cruel or degrading treatment and extrajudicial killings. The rights of families were also mentioned. Some speakers underscored the need to consider the specific needs of women and vulnerable groups, for reasons of age, ethnicity, racial or socio-economical conditions.
  • Human rights
  • Access to controlled medicines
Reference was further made to stigmatization and criminalization of drug use as barriers to access these services.
  • Alternatives to punishment
Several speakers referred to benefits of risk and harm reduction measures, including opioid substitution treatment and needle and syringe exchange programmes in the context of prevention and treatment of HIV and other blood borne diseases.
  • Harm reduction
It was also mentioned that the international drug control conventions allow States flexibility to adapt their policies to national circumstances.
  • Alternatives to punishment
  • Flexibilities in the UN drug conventions
In the context of criminal justice measures, many speakers highlighted the importance of proportionality of sentencing and of alternatives to conviction or punishment for non-violent and minor drug-related offences. It was also mentioned that both aggravating and mitigating circumstances should be taken into account.
  • Alternatives to punishment
  • Proportionality of sentencing
Many speakers stated their opposition to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, and in particular for drug-related offences.
  • Death penalty
Many speakers referred to the necessity to implement gender sensitive and –responsive policies tailored to the specific needs and vulnerabilities of female drug users and drug offenders, and to mitigate the negative impact on their families. Reference was made to stigmatization, violence, disproportionate sentencing, prior victimization, poverty, specific needs of pregnant women and women with caretaking responsibilities. The United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules) were mentioned in this regard.
  • Proportionality of sentencing

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This is a summary of one of the five thematic roundtables held at the UNGASS in April 2016.