The Support. Don't Punish. Campaign
‘Support. Don’t punish’ is a campaign that aims to stop HIV by calling for reform of government actions on drugs.
Invest in effective HIV responses for people who use drugs
Programmes that are essential for tackling HIV among people who use drugs must achieve the required scale. These include needle and syringe programmes and methadone programmes, antiretroviral treatment services for HIV positive drug users, counselling and other support services to help people adhere to medicines and to build skills and knowledge in changing behaviour, and legal services to defend drug users against discrimination.
Governments must reform drug laws and policies that impose harsh penalties on people who use drugs
This punitive approach has failed to reduce levels of drug use but has increased stigma and discrimination, impeding people’s access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services that are essential to saving lives and curbing the spread of HIV. Criminalising and incarcerating drug users ruins lives and undermines HIV prevention.
The campaign is part of the Community Action on Harm Reduction project, lead by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, which aims to expand harm reduction services to more than 180,000 people who inject drugs, their partners and children in China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Malaysia.
The international ‘day of action’ on 26 June 2013
Activists in more than 40 cities around the world, including London, Paris, Nairobi, Dodoma, Seville, Mexico City, Mostar, Ohrid or Oslo, took to the streets in an historic day of action to raise awareness on the harms caused by the ‘war on drugs’ during the SUPPORT. DON’T PUNISH Day of Action, organised on 26 June to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
The list of high profile people advocating for drug policy reform is growing fast. For instance, in London, high-profile people such as Virgin head Sir Richard Branson (also member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy) endorsed the Support. Don’t. Punish campaign on twitter. Caroline Lucas, Green party MP for Brighton Pavilion, also supported the campaign in this city.
"By criminalising millions of people around the world as part of the ‘war on drugs’, we are failing to tackle the root causes of the drug problem. Governments now need to take an approach based on evidence – and one which deals with drugs as a health issue, not a criminal one. By criminalising people with drug addictions, we also risk fuelling the HIV epidemic. We need to support, not punish”, stated Lucas on 26 June.
Why 26 June?
This is the United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, a day that has historically been used by governments to celebrate the war on drugs – in some cases, even holding public executions of drug offenders as a sign of commitment. But June 26th is also the United Nations’ International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, and this campaign aims to help redefine what June 26th means, and how we look at drug policies around the world.
Why Richard Nixon?
Some 40 years ago, US President Richard Nixon launched a ‘war on drugs’ and was the first high-profile politician to coin this phrase. This ‘war’ has since resulted in the global repression, incarceration, punishment of people who use drugs, and has been used to justify executions, extrajudicial killings, torture, forced treatments and the demonisation of this population. President Nixon´s face is easily recognizable and, as such, will be visually impactful. The fact that the general public (and much of the media) might not associate President Nixon with the ‘war on drugs’ will also help to ensure interest in the campaign. Once the event has been realised, the photo captions in the press will place Nixon, the ‘war on drugs’ and the campaign in context.
Bosnia & Herzegovina (Mostar, Tuzla, Zenica), France (Paris), Georgia (Tbilisi), Hungary (Budapest), India (Chennai, Delhi, Imphal-Manipur, Longleng, Meghalaya), Indonesia (Bengkulu, Bandung, Sukabumi, Cirebon, Denpasar, Jakarta, Jambi, Makassar, Mataram, Medan, Palembang, Pontianak, Surabaya), Kenya (Nairobi), Lebanon (Beirut), Macedonia (Ohrid), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Mauritius (Port-Louis), Mexico (Mexico City), Nepal (Kathmandu, Pokhara), Norway (Oslo), Romania (Bucharest), Russia (Moscow), Spain (Seville), Tanzania (Dodoma), Thailand (Bangkok), United Kingdom (Bournemouth, London), Ukraine (Kiev).
Online resources to interact:
The campaign report: Experiences of community advocacy and harm reduction programmes
Click here to see the Facebook page with the Interactive photo project and the Album of the Day of Action.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to participate or follow up the campaign, and for media queries.
For more information, please check the microsite of the campaign at http://supportdontpunish.org/ and read the campaign statement below.