XIX International AIDS Conference


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WEPE489 - Poster Exhibition

Compliance of west African drug related laws with the UN conventions, treaties and other international instruments: which is the way to go?

E. Sartoretto

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), HIV Section, DAKAR, Senegal

Background: The West Africa became in the past few years the turntable of an intense drug smuggling from the Latin America and Asia to Europe. However, the strict legal environment conceived to fight against drug traffickers also produces, as a consequence, the stigmatization and criminalization of drug users. Several countries in the sub-region keep applying the criminal law to health related instances, thus skipping constructive and effective responses to HIV risks related to IDUs. Moreover, this approach leads directly to several human rights violations, like the right to health which is indispensable for enjoying all other rights. Indeed all the drugs control policies and their implementation strategies enhance systematic discrimination against IDUs and constitute an obstacle for accessing essential therapies. Within this framework, the countries where the applicable drug law is not in compliance with human rights standards, catalyze the HIV epidemic and obstruct the implementation of harm reduction measures (i.e. comprehensive package).
Methods: Comparative analysis of national laws on Drugs towards UN Conventions and other International Instruments.
Results: Based on the predominant approach - endorsed by Drug Codes in West Africa - aiming at criminalizing IDUs, it is of main importance to identify all legal obstacles to the supply of health services in light of the UN Conventions on Drugs and other International Instruments.
Conclusions: All UN Conventions include principles making legally possible to avoid, in certain circumstances and up to a certain extent, the criminalization of IDUs. However, and despite the International Human Rights Instruments, in several Western African countries the law had rather adopted punitive approaches towards IDUs. Thus the law enforcement of disproportionate punishment had produced negative effects in terms of public health and human rights fulfillment, by increasing the rate of HIV epidemic. Whiting this framework a law reform is a necessary step to tackle HIV epidemic among IDUs.

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