￼￼GLOBAL DEBATE AND PUBLIC POLICY CHALLENGE
TO: THE GOVERNMENT OF UGANDA
FROM: UGANDA HARM REDUCTION NETWORK
TIME FOR UGANDA TO ACT REASONABLY ON DRUG POLICY
What is Uganda Harm Reduction Network?
Uganda Harm Reduction Network is a civil society organization established in 2011. Its main focus is to create a safe and secure Ugandan society that recognizes and protects the health, social, economic and human rights of drug users. Besides, it demands that interventions and policies designed to serve drug users reflect specific individual and societal needs.
Outlining the Problem
The prohibitive and struggle against drug consumption, supply and production in Uganda has been in place for over 50 years. Uganda has continuously punished and detained drug users and traffickers (Uganda Harm Reduction Network Report, 2010). The National Policy on illicit Drugs per now is more retributive than it would be realistically rehabilitative and accommodative. This has driven all drug related activities underground and the country has not produced any suitable and credible results in reducing the trafficking and consumption of illicit drug. Hence, there is need to re-think the strategy and re-evaluate the existing mechanisms. The zero tolerance policy affects the country and the citizens mainly in three ways;
1. Economically, the country is deprived of the taxes that would accrue the government coffers if the drug dealing would be legal but under government regulation. For instance in Uruguay, the main reason given for legalizing the sell and consumption of marijuana is to tap the taxes that went untapped when the activity was done underground which is expected to be at 40 million US dollars per year (Funez, 2013).
2. The judicial system is unfair to those involved in drug use and its expenditure is enormous. In the year 2011, Uganda prosecuted over 4600 criminals for drug related offences (US Department of Narcotics Report, 2012). This deserves rational and thorough revision.
3. Lastly, the rights of drug users are frequently being abused with constant torture, assault and forced detention (Uganda Harm Reduction Network Report, 2010). This is contrary to the duty that is bound on Uganda to her citizens to protect their fundamental rights entrenched in the constitution under Chapter 4, and International Bill of Rights.
The arguments: To decriminalize some forms of drugs or not.
The licit and illicit drug use is part of Uganda and therefore the country has to work to minimize its harmful effects than ignore and punitively condemn it. It began with the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotics at the international level, and in Uganda; Uganda National Drug Policy and Authority Act 2000, with the pending Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Bill 2007. Before Parliament, all are criminal towards illicit drugs but producing exact opposite of the expected. It seems there is something fundamentally wrong with the...