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Global War on Drugs Takes Devastating Toll on Human Lives, Advocates Say
Date:3/5/2009

High Level Meeting Convenes in Vienna to Chart Future of Drug Control Efforts

NEW YORK, March 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In advance of a United Nations meeting meant to set the direction of drug policy for the next decade, the Open Society Institute today released a new report documenting the costs to health and human rights of current, repressive approaches to drug control.

Country delegates gathering in Vienna next week are expected to issue a political declaration that could impact the lives of millions of people. The OSI publication, which includes studies and testimonies reflecting conditions in more than 30 countries, examines the ramifications of ignoring public health concerns.

"Any drug control approach that does not ensure protections for health and human rights is destined to fail," said Daniel Wolfe, Director of OSI's International Harm Reduction Development Program. "The global war on drugs has devolved into a war on individual drug users and their communities. While the drug trade continues to thrive, families across the globe are being torn apart by HIV, draconian prison sentences, and wholesale police abuses."

Through firsthand interviews, policy analyses, and case studies, At What Cost?: HIV and Human Rights Consequences of the Global War on Drugs highlights the ineffectiveness of drug control to achieve its goals, and its far-reaching, unintended consequences. In the report, women from Cambodia recount being rounded up by police and locked without charges in a military-run "rehabilitation" center where they were subjected to regular and severe beatings by guards. Medications for HIV, tuberculosis, or to treat painful withdrawal symptoms were unavailable to the women. In another chapter, a 41-year-old man in Karachi, Pakistan, reports that suspected drug users "have now become a very easy source of income for the police. If we do not hav
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SOURCE Open Society Institute
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