NEW DELHI: A first of its kind global drug policy index 2021 that ranks 30 countries drawn from across regions on how humane and health-driven their drug laws and policies are, gives India a score of 46 out of 100 with Norway at the top with 74 and Brazil at the bottom scoring 26. In terms of ranking India is at 18.
The index highlights that the global dominance of drug policies based on repression and punishment has led to low scores overall, with a median score of just 48 out of 100 for all 30 countries which is assessed as a “drug policy failure” and a sign for urgent measures to deal with the situation.
“48 out of 100 is a drug policy fail in anyone’s book. This index highlights the huge room for improvement across the board,” said Ann Fordham, executive director of the International Drug Policy Consortium which led the development of the index with the partners in the Harm Reduction Consortium.
Reflecting a long-standing global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty, the report highlights that only three out of these 30 countries – India, Indonesia and Thailand retain capital punishment for certain drug offences. “The death penalty for drug offences is contrary to international human rights standards, which ban capital punishment for all but the ‘most serious’ offences, that is crimes of extreme gravity involving intentional killing,” the report said.
This index comes at a time when the Indian government is reviewing the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985. Recently, the ministry of social justice and empowerment as part of its suggestions to the revenue department of the ministry of finance recommended that users and dependents caught with small quantities of drugs and their families should be treated as “victims” and not culprits and suggested compulsory treatment and rehab instead of jail terms and penalties for such users.
The report in its analysis of policy and its implementation in 2020 brings to fore that there is a huge gap between government policies and their implementation on ensuring access to controlled medicines (for relief of pain and suffering), especially in countries like India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Senegal which score high on policy, but score zero out of 100 for actual availability of these controlled medicines for those in need.
The inaugural edition of the index released by the Harm Reduction Consortium shows that Norway, New Zealand, Portugal, the UK and Australia are the five leading countries on humane and health driven drug policies. Brazil, Uganda, Indonesia, Kenya, and Mexico are the five lowest-ranking countries. The index measures and compares national-level drug policies, providing each country with a score and ranking that shows how much their drug policies and their implementation align with the UN principles of human rights, health and development.
The analysis shows that drug law enforcement targets primarily non-violent offences, and especially people who use drugs: only eight out of the 30 countries surveyed have decriminalised drug use and possession, and out of those, only three managed to truly divert people away from the criminal justice system. On the positive side, most countries’ policy and strategy documents explicitly support harm reduction. However, implementation is a cause for concern.




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