PITCH partners call for better drug policies

PITCH partners call for better drug policies

Thousands of activists all over the world join the Support. Don’t Punish advocacy campaign. Since 2013, this global grassroots-centred initiative has been raising awareness of the harms caused by the criminalisation of people who use drugs. The goal of the campaign is to change laws and policies that limit access to harm reduction interventions and to promote respect for the human rights of people who use drugs. PITCH partners actively participated in this year’s campaign, and we are happy to share a few stories from them.

Indonesia

Since the start of the war on drugs in 1991, the illegal drug trade has been thriving in Indonesia. Women, in particular, are vulnerable to becoming victims of drug abuse and face multiple stigmas as a result of the existence of the black market for drugs.

PITCH partner Indonesian Positive Women Association (IPPI) organised a photography exhibition in Jakarta titled “Sharing the love of women for women”. The photographs, taken by former and present female drug users, presented women who experienced stigma and discrimination. Over 200 activists, community members and leaders attended the event and expressed their support.

Kenya

PITCH partners VOCAL and the Kenya Network of People who Use Drugs (KENPUD) presented their advocacy work to parliamentarians. They informed legislators about harm reduction issues and highlighted the Support. Don’t Punish campaign.

VOCAL representatives lobbied with Members of the Parliament and the Senate to amend the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1994. They showcased the disadvantages of the existing criminal justice approach to drug policies in Kenya and proposed making healthcare a devolved function of the county government and sustaining harm reduction funding at the primary healthcare facility level.

Elsewhere, KENPUD organised a football match to sensitise parents and religious leaders on the community benefits of harm reduction. 

© KENPUD 2019| PITCH partners VOCAL and the Kenya Network of People who Use Drugs (KENPUD) present their advocacy work to parliamentarians
© KENPUD 2019 | PITCH partners VOCAL and the Kenya Network of People who Use Drugs (KENPUD) present their advocacy work to parliamentarians

Mozambique

PITCH partners, Associação Comunitária Ambiente da Mafalala and Rede Nacional Sobre Droga & HIV organised a range of activities in Mafalala, a neighbourhood in Maputo with the highest prevalence of drug use in the country. The march they organised attracted close to 1,000 people, including a high number of government and law enforcement officials.

© Job Mutombene, ACAM 2019 | Poetry contest
© Job Mutombene, ACAM 2019 | Poetry contest

Nigeria

The Drug Harm Reduction Advocacy Network (DHRAN) held their largest ever national Support Don’t Punish advocacy campaign. The event included law enforcement agents, the media and state-based stakeholders and featured community-led HIV testing services. This helps reduce the stigma and discrimination of people who use drugs by members of the public.

DHRAN 2019 | Activists and supporters marching on the streets
DHRAN 2019 | Activists and supporters marching on the streets

Ukraine

PITCH partner Ukrainian Network of People Who Use Drugs (PUD.UA/VOLNA) organised a performance in front of the Office of the President of Ukraine in Kyiv to draw attention to the current repressive drug policy and the problems hundreds of thousands of drug users face every day. Anton Basenko, PITCH country focal point and chairman of the Board of the Ukrainian Network of People Who Use Drugs, reflected on the performance ‘Sleeping Beauty – Ukraine Drug Policy’:

"Presidents change, governments and Parliaments change, but, unfortunately, the repressive drug policy in Ukraine does not change. As a result, the epidemics of HIV, TB and hepatitis, criminalisation of ordinary drug users and unregulated state-run “pseudo rehabilitation services” for people who use drugs thrive. It seems that the drug policy has “fallen into sleep”. That’s why we, like thousands of people in hundreds of cities around the world, came to “wake her up”, and voice our message again: Support. Don’t Punish!".

© Pavlo Skala, Alliance for Public Health 2019 | Improvised performance in front of the Office of the President of Ukraine in Kyiv
© Pavlo Skala, Alliance for Public Health 2019 | Improvised performance in front of the Office of the President of Ukraine in Kyiv

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) organised a football challenge for young people from densely populated suburbs with high levels of drug use. During the event the organisers shared information about the safe use of drugs, HIV testing as well as drug use, prevention and condom distribution.

© Albert Zinhoro 2019 | Youth at a football challenge in Mufakose, Zimbabwe
© Albert Zinhoro 2019 | Youth at a football challenge in Mufakose, Zimbabwe
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