The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), monitoring the implementation of the Convention by the States Parties, recommended Russia to reconsider their approach to drug policy. The CRPD was only recently established in the UN – The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities came into effect in 2008. Currently, there are 147 signatories. Russia ratified the Convention in 2012. In accordance with Article 35, the government submitted its first report on the implementation of rights expressed in the Convention, which was evaluated in 2018. At the same time, the Andrey Rylkov Foundation (ARF) as the Secretariat of the Russian Public Mechanism monitoring drug reform, submitted its shadow report, which highlighted the problems faced by persons with disabilities as a result of the repressive drug policy in the Russian Federation. The report stated that in 2013 over a million people with mental-health related disabilities (PMHD) were living in Russia. The estimated number of people who use drugs was between two and seven million.
In Russia, it is a widespread opinion that mental health issues amongst drug users are an effect of psychoactive substances. For this reason, instead of treating patients on general principles, they are subjected to repressive policies and unscientific methods of treatment, arrested by the police, convicted and sentenced to imprisonment. In total, 12 violations of the Convention were reported, including the general principle of non-discrimination. Upon examination of Russia’s report on the implementation of the rights expressed in the Convention, CRPD created recommendations for Russia. The recommendations contained several suggestions based directly on the ARF shadow report. Accordingly, CRDP urged to take into consideration the recommendations for Russia put forward in October 2017 by another UN committee – the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). CESCR expressed concerns of the level of drug addition and the punitive drug policy, which prevents drug users from seeking medical assistance, entering harm reduction programs and imprisons them for drug-related crimes. Consequently, CESCR recommended Russia to reconsider imprisonment for drug possession and start combating the stigma towards drug addicts, providing them medical assistance, adopting harm reduction programs and take more effective measures to diminish the spread of HIV/AIDS.