The Brazilian Drug Policy Platform (Plataforma Brasileira de Política de Drogas - PBPD) – which is composed of 34 institutions, groups and collectives from every walk of life – is enormously concerned with Brazil’s serious political crisis, and the first actions taken by the interim government with respect to drug policy. We refuse to abandon the few hard-won advances made over the past few years. The change effected thanks to the efforts of various social movements, and the active participation of countless specialists have undeniably shifted the tenor of drug policy debates in Brazil. That is why the signals coming from the interim government are so alarming - that it intends to continue the war on drugs – and with that, focus on strangling drug supply. This strategy has lost any legitimacy it once had, given that was never able to substantially reduce the damage resulting from the use of illegal substances. By placing an emphasis on the war on drugs, the government will aggravate the already-unacceptable level of violence in Brazil, which for more than a decade has led to the homicides of tens of thousands, and most of the dead are the most impoverished and ethnically discriminated-against group of all – young black men and women.
These young people represent the majority of the 620,000 incarcerated in Brazilian jails and prisons, and this number continues to climb year after year. More than 28% of imprisoned men have been convicted of drug trafficking, and for women, that number exceeds 60%. This useless escalation of incarceration and violence runs contrary to a growing body of scientific evidence as well as international debate driven to move forward with any number of alternative policies.
We also do not accept that policies touted for the care and treatment of people with drug problems need to prioritize hospitalization, as opposed to making use of a nascent public mental health network (Rede de Atenção Psicossocial – “RAPS”) which is part of the broader Brazilian National Health System (Sistema Único de Saúde – “SUS”). Any service financed by public funds should be based upon scientific evidence regarding its effectiveness, in addition to insuring that basic human rights are being met. Equally, harm reduction programs and the dissemination of credible data related to drugs, which have come so far over the past few years, cannot be ignored or denied, in favor of outdated, fear-driven ideas, which see abstinence as the only objective goal of any state-sponsored action.
Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert.
Thumbnail: Flickr CC Jeso Carneiro