20 October 2021

48th Session of the Human Rights Council: Drug Policy Highlights

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Our briefing highlights the Human Rights Council dialogues and reports which dealt with drug control and its impact on human rights.

On Friday 8th October 2021, the Human Rights Council concluded its 48th Session (13 September – 8 October 2021). A number of dialogues and resources addressed drug control and its human rights impacts, including:

  • 26 Member States including the EU reiterated concerns “about the enforced disappearances and death toll associated with the campaign against illegal drugs in the country and call for effective, impartial and transparent investigations.”
  • The annual report of the Secretary-General on the question of the death penalty, focused on transparency, highlighted how “cases of drug crimes punishable by death in some States are tried in hearings that have been described by some non-governmental organizations as lacking openness and transparency”; and how “the issue of transparency was exacerbated in 2020, when collecting information about the use of the death penalty for drug offences was even more challenging than in previous years.”
  • The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention presented Deliberation no.12 on women deprived of liberty, detailing violations of fundamental rights in detention and clarifying relevant human rights standards. The Deliberation reiterates how “Criminal and administrative detention as a result of drug control laws and policies disproportionately affects women and can constitute arbitrary detention”, and highlights the intersectional vulnerability to arbitrary detention of women who use drugs and sex workers.

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