1. The International Drug Policy Consortium, the Association For Safer Drug Policies Sweden and the Stockholm Drug Users Union, welcome the opportunity to provide input to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights regarding the serious violation of the rights to health and to education of people who use drugs in Sweden.
2. In spite of Sweden’s high level of economic welfare and health care, the health situation of people who use drugs is very poor, and deteriorating. Sweden has the second highest rate of drug-induced deaths in Europe, and the highest prevalence of Hepatitis C amongst people who inject drugs. Concerningly, the rates of death by overdose and transmission of blood-borne diseases have increased in recent years.
3. This tragic situation has been driven, at least in part, by the Swedish authorities’ consistent refusal to provide an appropriate level of harm reduction services to people who use drugs, which are recognised as life-saving health interventions by international bodies, as well as by Sweden’s general punitive policies towards drug use. To highlight this, in this submission we provide information to the Committee on the following items:
a. The unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on the provision of harm reduction services, such as access to sterile injecting equipment, opioid substitution therapies, naloxone (a medicine that reverses overdoses), and safe consumption rooms;
b. The imposition of compulsory treatment to certain drug users for up to 6 months,
c. The criminalization of personal drug use and ancillary activities, which operates as a barrier to access health care and life-saving harm reduction interventions; and
d. The practice of conducting forced urine or blood drug tests in some school districts, which in some cases can lead to the expulsion of student from school.