DRUG LAW & POLICY REFORM

About Drug Policy Reform Advocacy Campaign (DRUPORAC) Programme & Support. Don’t Punish Global Day Action Campaign

The Drug Policy Reform Advocacy Campaign (DRUPORAC) Programme of African Law Foundation (AFRILAW), Enugu Nigeria was initiated in 2015 as part of the Support. Don’t Punish Global Day Action Campaign in Nigeria. The AFRILAW started the Drug Policy Reform Advocacy Campaign (DRUPORAC) Programme after the Executive Director, Mr. Okereke Chinwike was offered scholarship to attended the West Africa Executive Course on Human Rights and Drug Policy organized by Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana with support from Open Society for West Africa Initiative (OSIWA) in 2014. DRUPORAC is aimed at promoting review and reform and/or harmonizing of Nigeria drug laws and policy on the basis of existing and emerging minimum standards in which the security, health, human rights and well-being of all Nigerians is the central goal, and the end the criminalization of people who use drugs in Nigeria. Support. Don’t Punish Global Day Action Campaign is a global advocacy campaign – which aims to promote harm reduction, call for policy reform, call for better funding for health services, and promote the removal of criminal sanctions for people who use drugs and other low-level drug offenders. The global “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign was launched by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), UK and partners. The campaign has two aims: Support people who use drugs. Provide services such as needle and syringe programmes, that stop HIV transmission; and Don’t punish people who use drugs. Improve policies that drive people away from health services and into prison. The Support. Don’t Punish Global Day Action Campaign is on June 26th every year. June 26th is the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking – a day when many governments celebrate their contributions to the global ‘war on drugs’. Also, June 26th is also the United Nations’ International Day in Support of Victims of Torture – an ironic coincidence given the widespread torture and abuse suffered in the name of the war on drugs.

The aim of the Campaign is awareness creation and education of the citizens and the stakeholders on drug policies that respect human rights and protect public health, to change laws and policies which impede access to harm reduction interventions and other evidence-based services, and to end the criminalisation of people who use drugs in Nigeria.

Drug Policy Reform Advocacy Campaign (DRUPORAC) Programme 2015 Activities

In 2015, African Law Foundation (AFRILAW) partnered with the Community Intervention Network on Drugs (CIND) and International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) UK to mark the 2015 Support. Don’t Punish Global Day Action Campaign through awareness creation and education of the citizens and the stakeholders on drug policies that respect human rights and protect public health, to change laws and policies which impede access to harm reduction interventions and other evidence-based services, and to end the criminalisation of people who use drugs.

The 2015 Support. Don’t Punish Global Day Action Campaign, AFRILAW carried out the activities which include:
1. Holding Interactive Radio Phone-In Programme;
2. Social Media campaign (Facebook and Twitter); and
3.Organizing 1-Day Enugu Forum on Drugs (EFOD).

By carrying out the series of activities to mark the 2016 Global Day of Action activities, AFRILAW hope to contribute toward promoting drug policy reform that respect human rights and protect public health, to change laws and policies which impede access to harm reduction interventions and other evidence-based services, and to end the criminalisation of people who use drugs in Nigeria.

1. 1st Enugu Forum on Drugs (EFOD).
This was held on Friday, June 26 th , 2016 at the Sunshine Hotel, Enugu. About 30 CSOs members from Enugu,Abia and Ebonyi State attended the event.


2. Interactive Radio Phone-In Programme. This activity was held at one of the major Radio Station in Enugu State, Dream FM at Enugu, Enugu State. The AFRILAW ED and the General Secretary of Community Intervention Network on Drugs (CIND) anchored the programme as shown below:

Drug Policy Reform Advocacy Campaign (DRUPORAC) Programme 2016 Activities

In 2016, African Law Foundation (AFRILAW) collaborated with the Community Intervention Network on Drugs (CIND) in partnership with International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) and West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN) with support from the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) to mark the 2016 Support. Don’t Punish Global Day Action Campaign through awareness creation and education of the citizens and the stakeholders on drug policies that respect human rights and protect public health, to change laws and policies which impede access to harm reduction interventions and other evidence-based services, and to end the criminalisation of people who use drugs.

The 2016 Support. Don’t Punish Global Day Action Campaign, AFRILAW carried out the activities which include:
1. Holding Interactive Radio Phone-In Programme;
2. Social Media campaign (Facebook and Twitter);
3.Hold Interactive Photo Petition, and
4. Organize 1-Day Enugu Forum on Drugs (EFOD).

By carrying out the series of activities to mark the 2016 Global Day of Action activities, AFRILAW hoped to contribute toward promoting drug policy reform that respect human rights and protect public health, to change laws and policies which impede access to harm reduction interventions and other evidence-based services, and to end the criminalisation of people who use drugs in Nigeria.

The details of the each individual activity are outlined below.
1: Interactive Radio Phone-In Programme: This activity was held at one of the major Radio Station in Enugu State, Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) Sunshine FM at Enugu, Enugu State. The AFRILAW ED and the Dr. Chris Ugwu, ED of Society for Improvement of Rural People (SIRP), Enugu, a member of the Community Intervention Network on Drugs (CIND) anchored the programme as shown below:
2. Interactive Photo Project (Photo Petition): As part of the Campaign, AFRILAW had series of Photo Petition which were promoted through social media channels as shown below:

3. The 2 nd Enugu Forum on Drugs (EFOD):
African Law Foundation (AFRILAW) organized a 1-Day 2nd Enugu Forum on Drugs (EFOD) in collaboration with the Community Intervention Network On Drugs (CIND) in partnership with International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) and West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN) with support from the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). The forum was held on 1st September 2016 at Sunshine Hotels, Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria and the theme of the Forum Was “Nigeria Drug Control Response: The Human Rights And Public Health Approach”.

The 2nd EFOD was part of the global advocacy “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign to raise awareness of the harms being caused by the war on drugs. The aim and objective of the 2nd EFOD is to provide a platform for citizens and stakeholders participation and interaction toward promotion of drug policies that respect human rights and protect public health.

The participants were drawn from the Federal and State Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies including Civil Society organizations, Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Media organizations. In all, about 45 persons participated in the programme including the representatives of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Enugu State Command, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACON) Enugu Zonal Office, Nigeria Prison Service (NPS) Enugu State Command, Enugu State Ministry of Youths and Sports, and the Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (Enugu State Chapter) and the State President of the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Enugu State Chapter.

Group Picture of the participants at the forum
Group Picture of the participants at the forum

The AFRILAW Director, Mr. Okereke Chinwike heartily welcomed the participants to the forum. He explained the vision, goal and objectives of the “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign and the EFOD which is now at its second season. EFOD, he said started in 2015 has become an annual event and a platform for the promotion and advocacy on drug law and policy reform in Nigeria. He appreciated all the partners for this year’s forum and most importantly the support and partnership of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN) and the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WASCI) in funding the forum. He prayed for their continuous support and partnership with
AFRILAW in this regard and other programmes of interest.

Also, Mr. Chinwike Okereke in his remark emphasized that public health has been relegated to the background in the effort to combat the menace of drug use in Nigeria. He said that stakeholders should consider the effect it has on the people and consider emerging standards in alliance with public health and human right that can be adopted.

AFRILAW ED making presentation at the event.
AFRILAW ED making presentation at the event.

Presentation on the Overview of Nigeria Drug Law and Policy: Giving the overview of Nigeria Drug Control Approach, Chinwike Okereke highlighted international standards, and policies relating to drug control. He equally noted that Nigeria adopted different mechanisms to combat the menace of illicit drug in the country but that the approaches were “prohibitionist and punitive strategies” which has provoke violence and human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings; arbitrary detention prolong incarcerations and prison congestions; torture
and cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, denial of essential medicines and basic health services.

Consequently these drive major disease epidemics including hepatitis C and HIV; and in most cases incite corruption within the judiciary and the law enforcement officials. He therefore enjoined all stakeholders to contribute meaningfully using the platform to advocate for the adoption and implementation human right and public health approach in the war against drugs which aligns with ‘Don’t not punish campaign’.

Prof. Onyekwu Onyekwu, from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Nigeria Enugu Campus (UNEC), Enugu making presentation on the “We are a People” Study Report: The session was on review of the “We are a People” (The Unintended Consequences of the Nigeria Drug Law on the Health and Human Rights of Young People Who Use Drugs) Research Report .
Prof. Onyekwu Onyekwu, from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Nigeria Enugu Campus (UNEC), Enugu making presentation on the “We are a People” Study Report: The session was on review of the “We are a People” (The Unintended Consequences of the Nigeria Drug Law on the Health and Human Rights of Young People Who Use Drugs) Research Report .

The research was carried out by YouthRISE Nigeria in collaboration with the Civil Society on the Health and Rights of Vulnerable Women and Girls in Nigeria (CISHRWIN) with support from OSIWA. The study was carried in 6 states of Nigeria in 2015. According to the Study, young people who used drugs (YPWUDs) in Nigeria have witnessed series of human rights abuses including routine arrest and detention by law enforcement officials, extortion, physical harm, rape and sexual assault, stigma and neglect, among many others.

Meanwhile, the abuse reported is not limited by law enforcement officials but also those in treatment and rehabilitation centers. According to the report, most of the YPWUDs have not been sentenced to imprisonment as resort of drug use alone when arrested and detained in accordance with the NDLEA Act. On experiencing arrest, 64% of them have been arrested by the police, 22% by the NDLEA and 14% by both the Police and NDLEA.
Also, they have been made to languish in pre-trial detention for long periods from days to months up to 2 years for drug use and without being taken to the court for prosecution. To secure release from detention, most YPWUDs were made to pay bribes to law enforcement officials.

In this regard, the poor and most vulnerable YPWUDs who are at the lower level of the socio-economic ladder are commonly detained for a long periods before they are released, sometimes on “Compassionate Grounds”.

Furthermore, according to the report most YPWUDs who are placed in detention suffer from psychological and physical torture which include slapping, punching, threatened with a gun, and beaten with items such as batons, electrical cables and the likes. Some are held for days without food and water while some while housed for days with hardened criminals. More so, there is increasing cases of sexual assault and rape of female drug users by the law enforcement officials. Most of the female drug users suffered from unwanted and insensitive touching, forced sex and request for sex in exchange for release.

Furthermore, the presenter concluded with the indicator used to assess the performance of Drug Law Enforcement Agencies.
Panel Discussion: There was a Panel Discussion made of a representative of Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Legal Aid Council of Nigeria and Community Intervention Network on Drugs (CIND). Panel discussion was reaction to the presentation on the perspective of the institution each panelist represents. This was as follows:

1. Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS):
The representative of the NPS said that prisons have a different philosophy and that once a person is sent to prison the concern is rehabilitation of the individual. He said that the laws/policies use in the control of illicit drug and the way Nigerian looks at persons using drugs are primitive. He went further to said that almost all prisoners have inclination of using drugs but only few are arrested for the offence of illicit drug use and that minors are not kept in prison but given special treatment. He summarized his points by saying that prisons classify inmates according to offence committed and design treatment to help them come out a better person.

Also, he said that drug use is not all bad because some of the drugs have their uses so should not be treated as a criminal offence. He emphasized that laws with penalty only make the users tougher and therefore calls on stakeholders to show love and not discriminate
them at any point.

3. Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA):
The organization was said to care for indigent women and children by way of litigation and advocacy for their wellbeing. The State President of the organization said that the law is a tool for every workman and that as it is the laws for the control of drug in the country is inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria being the grand norm and other regional and international human rights instruments Nigeria ascribed to. She gave instances of double jeopardy and burden of proof on the accused in the NDLEA Act and called for the amendment of all laws that run contrary to the constitution and respect for human right. She further reiterated that women are both accused and victims of drug use on the basis that they receive harsh treatment from their husbands and children under the influence of drugs.

She laments lack of women and child specific drug strategy or policy in Nigeria. Most Women drug arrestees experience inhuman treatment in the prisons and often end up pregnant as inmates. She lamented on the treatment melted out to young people using drugs and called for a change in handling cases relating to minors. On strategies for the effective control of drug, the FIDA President stated that high level drug traffickers should be criminalized and encourages law enforcement agencies to fish out these barons and save the vulnerable ones from their menace.

President, Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Enugu State Chapter making a speech
President, Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Enugu State Chapter making a speech

4. Community Intervention Network on Drugs (CIND).
The Secretary of the organization who doubles as the Facilitator in his comments stated that the WE ARE PEOPLE Report of the researcher was revealing and re-awake consciousness of stakeholders involved in the control of illicit drug use in Nigeria. He went on to say that effort should be made to draw the line between drug use and the crime of drug users. Victims of drugs should be seen as people who need help not punishment. Human rights are inalienable and whatever intervention to control drug use should consider these rights. He urged drug related law enforcement agencies to work with CSOs in adopting preventive measures and stop abuse of human right. According to him, the women should be given special treatment and juvenile kept in specialized custody.

Secretary of CIND making a speech, He also doubled as the event Facilitator
Secretary of CIND making a speech, He also doubled as the event Facilitator

General Comments from Other Participants: There was a general comment from the various participants at the event:

The Way Forward and Recommendations: In conclusion, the participants as way forward recommended and assign roles and responsibilities to different stakeholders toward promoting health and human rights approach in drug control in Nigeria.

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