A small group of protesters rallied outside the United Nations on Thursday to demand a change in the global drug policy and to denounce the recent executions of eight drug traffickers in Indonesia
POSTED: 08 May 2015 05:50
UPDATED: 08 May 2015 07:49
NEW YORK: A small group of protesters rallied outside the United Nations on Thursday (May 7) to demand a change in the global drug policy and to denounce the recent executions of eight drug traffickers in Indonesia.
The rally was held outside the UN headquarters in New York at the same time the UN General Assembly met to discuss the drug policies.
Among the issues discussed were new approaches to addressing drug use and crime and sentencing reform and alternatives to prison. Across from the UN a small group of protesters held signs reading “no more drug war” and “no death penalty for drugs!”
Protest organiser Hannah Hetzer said, “Today inside the UN they are holding a high-level thematic debate on drug policy, which means high level representatives of different UN countries are getting together to talk about drug policy.
“And while most of us are spending the morning and afternoon inside, we wanted to make sure to come outside to protest the recent executions in Indonesia for drug offences. We think that’s contrary to human rights, to ethical standards, to international human rights law and we want to make sure our voices are heard outside.”
Last week, an Indonesian firing squad executed eight drug traffickers, including seven foreigners, sparking condemnation from Australia and Brazil who had made final, desperate pleas to save their nationals.
The mass execution cements the hard line on enforcing the death penalty adopted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo as part of his war on drugs, an approach criticised by the United Nations.
Four Nigerians, two Australians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian were executed in a forest clearing near the prison, as family members held a candle-light vigil within earshot of the firing range.
Nazlee Maghsoudi representing the International Centre for Science and Drug Policy and Canadian Students for a Sensible Drug Policy said the executions were “not acceptable.”
The demonstrators, representing more than 10 different organisations, also called for a more human-centred approach to the drug problem.
“We want to see a complete refocusing on public health and human rights. We don’t think anyone should go to jail for use or possession of drugs. We think that those who use drugs and do not commit crimes should not be gone after. We think that those who have a drug problem and an addiction need treatment and support, never jail time.
“So we want to see a reorientation away from criminal justice and towards public health. We also don’t want the drug war. We don’t want militarisation in Latin America and other parts of the world. We want the human being and the people to be put at the centre of drug policy,” said Hetzer.
According to the United Nations Development Programme, there is increasing evidence that the war on drugs has failed, with criminalisation often creating more problems than it solves. Many critics of the ‘war on drugs’ advocate some legalisation to try to undermine criminal gangs that thrive on narcotics trafficking.