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By UNODC

15 March 2016 - Alternatives to conviction or punishment, where appropriate, can be pursued by countries under the international drug control conventions, the head of UNODC, Yury Fedotov, stressed today at a side event on the margins of the 59th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND).

Mr. Fedotov highlighted the need to consider alternatives to imprisonment as a means of "helping to address prison overcrowding, and potentially prevent the recruitment of vulnerable individuals in detention by criminals and terrorists."

The discussions ahead of the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS 2016), to be held in April this year, he said, showed that the three international drug control conventions are driven by a concern for the health and welfare of humankind. He noted that a balanced approach necessitated applying the principle of proportionality to drug-related offences and offenders.

"Disproportionate responses do not serve the cause of justice, nor help to uphold the rule of law. In this regard, the application of the death penalty to drug-related offences has never been in the letter or the spirit of the conventions," underscored Mr. Fedotov.

People suffering from drug use disorders also need comprehensive health and social services that are voluntary, rights-based, accessible, effective and affordable. This required, Mr. Fedotov said, justice, health and social service actors to work together in close coordination.

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Thumbnail: Commission on narcotic drugs - UNIS Vienna