The Impact of Drug Policy on Human Rights - The Experience in the Americas, Maria Schujer (2015)

 After extensive regional thematic hearings, a leading case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2014 set the tone for a new approach on the connection of human rights and drug policy across America. This 10 chapter publication written by the Center for Legal and Social Studies, Argentina,  assesses the prohibitionist model used to by governments in their ‘war on drugs’ and pinpoints its negative outcomes, such as the emergence of a huge illegal market,  the widening of social gaps, gross violations of human rights, particularly amongst the most vulnerable social groups of society and ever-increasing violence. These traditional methods used for drug policy have lost credibility and legitimacy. 

Major challenges have occurred amongst armed groups that use illegal drug trafficking as their source of income. These groups clash with local communities and foster violence. Let alone in Mexico, 70,000 murders have been noted in connection to drug trafficking. The increasing number of armed forces taking up the battle with these groups has led to a militarisation campaign with enforced disappearances, displaced people by violence and other human rights violations, such as torture in detention. These military intervention techniques have also been used in other countries, such as Argentina justified by the ‘war on drugs’.  

 This report also mentions women as a vulnerable sub-group of drug users and specifically mentions the problem of violence used against them. 

 Mass detentions under inhumane conditions and disproportionate punishments for drug offenders are also discussed extensively. 

Conclusive comments lead to the thesis that instead of focusing upon criminalisation of drug use, human rights and health aspects are leading the way to an alternative, more effective drug policy. Social aspects of drug problems must be focused upon while reducing the prohibitionist approach. 

Citation: Maria Schujer. 'The Impact of Drug Policy on Human Rights- The Experience in the Americas' (CELS (Center for Legal and Social Studies, Argentina, 1st ed. 20 August 2015.)