4 December 2020

Discrimination against people of African descent in drug law enforcement

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Black people are systematically discriminated against in all stages of the criminal process, being disproportionately policed, arrested, harshly sentenced, and incarcerated for drug offences.

HRI and Release collaborated on this submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in response to a call for evidence under Human Rights Council Resolution 43/1 “Promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers”

This submission focuses on racism and discrimination against people of African descent in drug law enforcement. Since a global ‘war on drugs’ was launched in the 1970s, evidence has emerged of its disproportionate impact on poor and marginalised communities, and of its predominant enforcement along racial lines. This submission provides some (among many) examples from the USA, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, on policing, arrest, sentencing and incarceration of people of African descent for drug offences; and comments on some social and health impacts of this phenomenon, whilst referring to more detailed sources.

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