If the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform has their way, getting high could be considered a human right and, therefore, not subject to criminal penalties. The group’s 34-page document concerning the human rights violations that are part and parcel of the war on drugs can be found published in PDF format at their website.
Examples of human rights violation cited in the report include criminal penalties for minor amounts of drugs; the destruction of coca crops that disparately affect the livelihood of farmers in poor, rural areas; and the denial of drugs to the ill and the dying.
“For European countries the European Convention on Human Rights, in particular Article 8, could be invoked in support of the argument that possession or purchase or cultivation of drugs for personal use, particularly in small quantities, do not injure other people’s rights either directly or indirectly and therefore should not be criminalised.”
Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights affords respect to the matters of private home life.
British Parliamentary Member Keith Vaz told the Independent that Article 8 could be used in a test case in defense for a drug user, but he expects such action would “open the floodgates” for future criminal drug cases. According to Express, Vaz also said that “human rights legislation was not meant to be used this way.”
The idea that the war against drugs violates human rights is not new. A report in 2014 published by the Global Commission On Drug Policy urged world leaders to forge ways to end drug prohibition to help keep human rights intact. A video produced by The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) highlights some of the human rights violations found globally.
Opposition to the possible use of Article 8 to decriminalize drugs have been quick to point out that the end of personal home life could be obvious in the case of a drug user committing a crime such as theft to obtain drugs. EuropeLeap is using language such as “junkie” to make the claim seem ridiculous.
— EuropeLEAP (@EuropeLEAP) August 19, 2015
Does drug usage fit within Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights? Is Vaz correct in his opinion that human rights legislation ought not to be used in this way? And if so, in what way should human rights legislation be used for? If consensus on human rights is not meant to be used on a local level to supersede laws that may lay harm to human rights, is it merely symbolic in nature?
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