human rights

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Global: Leaders Call Upcoming UN Session 'Historic Opportunity' To End Failed War On Drugs

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A bold public statement was released on Friday by the Global Commission on Drug Policy stating that “an historic opportunity to achieve more humane and effective drug policy is at risk.” The Commission is referring to the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs -- a meeting of all UN member states to evaluate the current state of international drug control.

The UNGASS is taking place in New York from April 19-21 and is the first such meeting in 18 years.

"We are driven by a sense of urgency,” said Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil and chair of the Global Commission. “There is widespread acknowledgment that the current system is not working, but also recognition that change is both necessary and achievable.

"We are convinced that the 2016 UNGASS is an historic opportunity to discuss the shortcomings of the drug control regime and identify workable alternatives," Cardoso said.

The Global Commission onFriday called the proposed outcome document for UNGASS (currently being negotiated in Vienna) “long on rhetoric, but short on substance” with “no hard solutions.” The Commission also urges governments to put “people’s health, safety and human rights first.” According to the statement, this includes:

• Ending the criminalization and incarceration of drug users;
• Abolishing capital punishment for drug-related offences;

Uruguay Stands Up To U.N. On Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Uruguay has stood up to the United Nations on the issue of marijuana legalization, refusing to back down after several meetings with officials from the international body.

Juan Andrés Roballo, the president of Uruguay's National Drug Board (JND), announced on Thursday that he will present a report before the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights defending the country's legalization and regulation of the cannabis market, reports PanAm Post.

Roballo said he will urge the U.N. to discuss legalization "without taboos," reports El Pais.

"Uruguay has embarked on a different path," Roballo said. "Not only have we made proposals; we have also taken effective, concrete measures in a different sense."

Roballo added that the whole world is watching Uruguay, and emphasized the "special commitment" the country has to run a successful legalization process.

The U.N., meanwhile, claims the legalization law approved by Uruguay "is incompatible with what is stipulated in the 1961 Convention," referencing the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, an international treaty restricting the production, manufacture, export, import, and distribution of various drugs.

Uruguay's decision to legalize cannabis has "kicked the hornet's nest," according to JND Secretary Milton Romani.

D.C.: Activists To March Friday From State Dept. To White House To End War On Drugs

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U.N. Preparing to Reconsider International Drug Control Policies

Activists will march from the U.S. State Department to the White House on Friday morning, demanding that the Obama Administration do more to end the failed War On Drugs and the human rights violations it causes. The advocates especially want the U.S. to ensure that international aid it provides is not used to support the death penalty for nonviolent drug offenses.

The march is part of a global day of action called "Support, Don't Punish," with events taking place in 150 cities around the world, including New York. It coincides with the annual United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which some governments use to focus on prevention and awareness, but which others have used to highlight large drug busts and seizures, or even to carry out executions.

WHO: Organizations that oppose the War On Drugs and support human rights

WHAT: March -- part of an international day of action in 150 cities -- featuring signs with slogans like "Prohibition => Crime + Violence," "No Drug Executions With Our Dollars" and “Drug Execution Agency"

WHEN: Friday, June 26 at 9:30 AM ET

WHERE: From the State Department (2201 C St NW) to the White House (1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW)

U.S.: Drug Policy Alliance Mocks Scandal-Ridden DEA With "Help Wanted" Ad

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Ad is Part of Campaign to Influence Obama’s Next DEA Pick, End Agency’s Opposition to Marijuana Law Reform, and Ultimately Reform or Abolish the Agency

As States Legalize Marijuana and Tide Turns Against the Failed Drug War, DEA Increasingly Scrutinized

The Drug Policy Alliance has placed a mock “Help Wanted” ad in Roll Call seeking a new head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to “prolong the failed war on drugs.” Primary areas of job responsibility include “Mass Incarceration,” “Police State Tactics,” “Obstruction of Science,” “Subverting Democracy” and “Undermining Human Rights.”

The ad comes in the wake of numerous DEA scandals and DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart’s recent announcement she will resign sometime in May.

“Drug prohibition, like alcohol Prohibition, breeds crime, corruption, and violence – and creates a situation where law enforcement officers must risk their lives in a fight that can’t be won,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “It’s time to reform not just the DEA but broader U.S. and global drug policy.

"The optimal drug policy would reduce the role of criminalization and the criminal justice system in drug control to the greatest extent possible, while protecting public safety and health,” Nadelmann said.

New York: Protest During High Level UN Meeting To Condemn Indonesia Drug Executions

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100+ Groups Call For A New Approach On Drug Policy, Emphasizing Human Rights

The United Nations (U.N.) on Thursday, May 7, will hold a high-level meeting to discuss international drug policy, in preparation for a United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drugs in 2016. The Special Session will be the largest international drug policy event in decades, the first of its kind since 1998.

United Nations ambassadors, ministers, and high level delegates from around the world will meet at the U.N. in NY to discuss achievements and challenges in international drug policy. In recent years, a growing number of countries are pushing for an open debate to discuss alternatives beyond punitive approaches.

This movement was first lead by former heads of state, such as Ruth Dreifuss of Switzerland, who will be speaking at Thursday’s event, and is now being continued by current presidents, especially in Latin America.

“The veneer of consensus that for so long sustained the failed global drug war and insulated it from critical examination is now broken,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “The stage is being set for a new global drug control paradigm for the 21st century better grounded in science, health and human rights.”

Global: Major Groups Call For UN To Respect Countries That Legalize Marijuana

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Human Rights Should Take Priority Over Drug Enforcement, New Letter Says

As the United Nations prepares for the first comprehensive review of global responses to drug problems in nearly two decades, a broad coalition of more than 100 organizations is pushing for the international body to respect countries that move away from prohibition.

"Existing US and global drug control policies that heavily emphasize criminalization of drug use, possession, production and distribution are inconsistent with international human rights standards and have contributed to serious human rights violations," the groups write in a new letter being released on Tuesday.

Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, Global Exchange and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights are among the signatories. Also notable are a number of organizations devoted to health policy and AIDS services.

The letter's release is timed to a United Nations "High-Level Thematic Debate on the World Drug Problem" taking place in New York on Thursday, May 7, in preparation for a UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) scheduled for April 2016. Advocates believe that countries should take the UNGASS as an opportunity to pursue a range of reforms to global drug policy, including revising provisions of the UN Drug Conventions that threaten to stand in the way of reform.

Global: Justice, Rights Groups Condemn Execution of Nonviolent Drug Offenders By Indonesia

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A number of U.S.-based and international criminal justice reform, human rights and public health groups on Tuesday are joining together to condemn the execution of nonviolent drug offenders by the Indonesian government that just took place.

“Wherever they occur, executions for nonviolent offenses violate human rights,” a sign-on letter from the groups says.

Despite repeated pleas for mercy from family members, citizens, human rights organizations, the United Nations, and governments around the world, Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, Nigerians Martin Anderson, Raheem Agbaje Salami, Okwuduli Oyatanze, and Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, and Indonesian Zainal Abidin faced a firing squad at just past midnight Indonesia-time. Serge Atlaoui from France has been given a temporary reprieve and Mary Jane Veloso from the Philippines was given a last-minute reprieve.

Arizona: Community To Rally Tuesday Against Secret Police Bill

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Petition with more than 2,400 signatures demanding veto to be delivered to Gov. Ducey

Community groups will be rallying outside Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s office Tuesday afternoon to speak out against SB 1445, a proposal that would require law enforcement agencies to conceal police officers’ identities for months following their involvement in violent or deadly incidents.

During the rally, a petition with more than 2,400 signatures will be delivered to Gov. Ducey’s office demanding he veto this legislation if it reaches his desk.

This bill is unnecessary, takes discretion away from local officials, promotes mistrust of the police and threatens Arizona’s proud tradition of open government, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. Furthermore, police officers’ extraordinary powers are much more likely to be abused when their use is concealed from the public.

WHAT: Speakers will encourage Gov. Ducey to veto this dangerous legislation if it reaches his desk and address the harm this law would inflict on communities of color, people with mental illness and their families, immigrants, and LGBT people, among others. A representative of the family of Michelle Cusseaux, who was killed by a Phoenix Police officer last summer, and representatives of the community group Justice for Rumain Brisbon, who was fatally shot by a Phoenix Police officer in December, are scheduled to speak.

U.S.: 43 Cities To Hold Protests Demanding Obama, Congress End Mexico Drug War Funding

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In the Wake of the Human Rights Crisis Exposed by Disappearance of the 43 Students in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico, Latino and other Communities Participating in Dec. 3 National Mobilization for Peace in Mexico Will Begin Process of Holding US Elected Officials Accountable on Mexico Aid

More than 43 U.S. cities will participate on Wednesday, December 3, in an unprecedented national mobilization to demand an end to the deadly “Plan Mexico,” a multibillion-dollar program to aid Mexico’s corrupt and notoriously violent security forces, ostensibly in the name of fighting the so-called War On Drugs.

In the wake of the extreme human rights crisis in Mexico that was exposed by the recent disappearance of the 43 students in the state of Guerrero, thousands of people from across the United States will march in front of federal buildings in their respective cities and other locations (at various times: for a full list of participating cities, locations, and times go to www.USTired2.com/cities ) to call on the Obama Administration and Congress to stop US funneling billions of tax dollars of military aid, training and coordination to Mexico’s military and police forces, which are widely known to be perpetrating massive human rights violations, including the September kidnapping of the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.

Saudi Arabia: Four Men Beheaded For Smuggling Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Four men have been beheaded by sword after being convicted of smuggling marijuana into Saudri Arabia, the interior ministry announced on Monday.

The government-run SPA news organization identified the Saudi men as two sets of brothers, Hadi and Awad al-Motleq, and Mufarraj and Ali al-Yami, reports Malta Today.

The four men were beheaded at Najran, a city in southwestern Saudi Arabia, after they were found guilty of smuggling "a large quantity of hashish" into the country. The government didn't say when the executions took place.

The four beheadings raised to 32 the number of executions announced so far this year in Saudi Arabia, according to the AFP news agency. Amnesty International denounced what it called a "disturbing surge" in executions there.

"The Saudi Arabian authorities must halt all executions," Amnesty said, adding that the executions of the two sets of brothers occurred "reportedly on the basis of forced confessions extracted through torture."

The latest executions "bring the number of state killings in Saudi Arabia in the past two weeks to 17 -- a rate of more than one execution per day," the organization said.

U.S.: 80 Organizations Come Together To Protect the Kids and End the Drug War

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Broad Coalition Comprised of Civil Rights, Criminal Justice, Immigration, Racial Justice, Human Rights Organizations

A diverse coalition of more than 80 civil rights, immigration, criminal justice, racial justice, human rights, libertarian and religious organizations are joined by notable figures such as Michelle Alexander in calling for an end to the War On Drugs in the name of protecting children both in Latin America and here in the United States.

The supporters of the letter -– which include the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Center for Constitutional Rights, Institute of the Black World, Presente.org, Students for Liberty, United We Dream, William C. Velasquez Institute, and the Working Families Organization -– are notable for their diversity in cause and focus, yet this issue unites them all.

In their letter of support for new policies, the coalition states:

"In recent weeks, the plight of the 52,000 unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S. border since last October, many of whom are fleeing drug war violence in Central America, has permeated our national consciousness. The devastating consequences of the drug war have not only been felt in Latin America, they are also having ravaging effects here at home. All too often, children are on the frontlines of this misguided war that knows no borders or color lines."

U.S.: Coalition of African American Faith Leaders Calls For End To War On Drugs

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The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with more than 2.3 million people behind bars. The United States represents less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet is home to almost 25 percent of those incarcerated in the world.

Drug law enforcement clearly has a disproportionate racial impact. African Americans represent nearly half of those who are incarcerated in the U.S., yet only represent 13 percent of the entire population. And while African Americans comprise only 13 percent of drug users, they make up 38 percent of those arrested for drug law violations and 59 percent of those convicted of drug law violations.

African Americans are more than 10 times more likely than white people to be sent to prison for drug offenses.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has told the United States that the stark racial disparities in the administration and functioning of its criminal justice system “may be regarded as factual indicators of racial discrimination” (United Nations Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2008, paragraph 20). Human Rights Watch and other prominent organizations have repeatedly pointed out the disproportionate racial impact of the drug war and its conflict with the standards of international human rights law.

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