UN 65th session: NHRC Boss makes special appeal for Drugs offenders

UN 65th session: NHRC Boss makes special appeal for Drugs  offenders
March 20 13:36 2022 Print This Article

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday harped on the need to assist victims of drug related offences to have access to justice so as not to violate their human rights while trying to prosecute or execute them.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu (SAN) who stated this at the online, side event of the on-going 65th Session of the UN Commission on Narcotic drugs, highlighted the dangers of not following the due process of the law in combating drug related offences by foreign nationals.

Ojukwu observed that where a foreigner is involved in drug related offences, there is every possibility that the he might not be availed the needed consular assistance and legal services aside from language barrier which could be a disadvantage in defending the allegations against him.

According to the Human Rights Boss, death penalty has remained a gross violation of the right life, which is why the advocacy for moratorium on death sentence has remained a better option pending the possibility of reviewing extant legislations in some countries that support the practice of death sentence.

He argued that by all standards, the Commission is not in support of drug abuse or trafficking in narcotic substances, pointing out that while it is expected that authorities should nip in the bud the abuse of these harmful substances, care should be taken not to violate the rights of drug users.

“Therefore steps should be taken to ensure that those who come in conflict with the law, including alleged drug offenders should enjoy the protection of the relevant local, regional and international laws”, the Executive Secretary stated.

In view of the foregoing, the NHRC Boss opined that monitoring and intervention by the relevant stakeholders will not only ensure that there is adequate record or information to know the trend of drug issues locally and globally, but should also ensure justice for the alleged drug offenders.

The Executive Secretary emphasized the need for national advocacy, most especially for migrants, they need to be informed and educated on the dangers of drugs trafficking in their host country.

In her remarks, the representative of Harm Reduction International (organisers of the online side event), Giada Girelli stated that execution as a result of drug related offences has been verified in 131 countries, adding that in Iran alone, drug related execution has increased to 424 percent.

The drug monitoring expert observed that there has not been any case of drug related execution in Saudi Arabia for the first time in over 15 years, and this according to her could be as a result of moratorium in execution of drug offenders.

Continuing, she also recalled that there has not been any execution in Singapore despite four notices of execution in the last four months even as she recalled that 35 countries had retained death penalty for drug related offences.

She noted that most of the people who face penalty for drug related offences include; foreign nationals, ethnic minorities, people with mental issues and women.

In her contribution, the representative of Justice Project Pakistan (Civil Society Organisation), Sana Farrukh stated that her organisation has been working with other stakeholders to change the narrative and perception about death penalty through advocacy and communication in Pakistan and around the globe.

She used the opportunity to place on record that Gulf countries are the largest jailers of Pakistans even when the alleged culprits are arrested for non-lethal crimes such as drug trafficking theft and violation of immigration laws.

Specifically, she said that Saudi Arabia remains the largest executioner of Pakistanis for non-fatal crimes, adding that one out of every ten persons executed in Saudi Arabia between 2016 and 2019 were convicted for carrying narcotics in the Kingdom.

In the same vein, Consular of Australian Embassy, Katie Mead,in her closing remarks, stated that this event has raised the profile of death penalty and condemned in its entirety the practice of death penalty, while urging every country to consider abolishing the same, emphasizing that death penalty should be abolished absolutely.

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