Two major global incidents in drug policy occurred in the tale end of November. In Singapore, a Nigerian national was executed for trafficking marijuana on the 18th. Meanwhile, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a group made of world leaders including several former presidents and prime ministers, issued a report calling for worldwide decriminalization of drugs, in large part to avoid human rights violations which befall drug convicts around the globe.
The GCDP report, entitled “Advancing Drug Policy Reform: A New Approach to Drug Decriminalization,” makes several recommendations for responsible new drug regulations to be adopted by both nation states and the United Nations. Among the group’s members are former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Anan, former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz, and former heads of state of Mexico, Greece, Brazil, Portugal, and Colombia.
In a somewhat radical argument, the report says that the War on Drugs, as it’s been fought in most states throughout the world, has succeeded in impoverishing the lives of citizens without stemming the supply and demand of narcotics. It proposes a new approach to combat the ills done by drug use and sale through responsible regulation. A foreword from the group’s Chair, Former President of Switzerland and Minister of Home Affairs Ruth Dreifuss, reads:
“As long as drugs are considered as evil, and thereby criminalized, they will remain in criminal hands. Because they are potentially harmful they must be regulated by responsible governments, who are in charge of the well-being of their population. Exploring models of regulated production and markets is necessary and these experiences have to be scientifically monitored and the results made available. It is time for States to assume their full responsibility and to remove drugs from the hands of organized crime. It is time to take control.”
The first recommendation the group makes is that “States must abolish the death penalty for all drug-related offenses.” The urging is timely after the recent execution of Chijioke Stephen Obioha by the Singapore Government. Obioha was arrested in 2007 with 2.6 kilograms of cannabis. In Singapore courts, that quantity puts the defendant under the presumption that they’re guilty of drug trafficking and the burden of proof falls on them, not the prosecution.
It is human right violations of drug convicts like this that the GCDP expresses outrage at, but their condemnation expands far outside the bounds of drug executions which take place in countries such as Singapore, the Philippines, and Thailand. Among the other symptoms of a broken drug law system are the torture of drug addicts to obtain the names of their suppliers in Russia and the overcrowding of American prisons.