55th Human Rights Council: Drug policy highlights


55th Human Rights Council: Drug policy highlights

30 April 2024
Harm Reduction International (HRI)

The 55th Human Rights Council took place between 26 February and 4 April 2024. This briefing highlights the key debates, decisions and documents that discuss drug control and its impact on human rights.

OHCHR oral update on Colombia

During the presentation of the High Commissioner’s annual report on the situation of human rights in Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras, the High Commissioner, Volker Türk, welcomed the adoption of Colombia’s key policies as part of its post-conflict peacebuilding process, which includes a new drug policy which integrates the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy (A/HRC/55/23)...

OHCHR oral update on Sri Lanka

Despite the Sri Lankan government’s Operation ‘Yukthiya’, an ongoing anti-drug operation which has led to over 40,000 arbitrary arrests and detention in overcrowded prisons and compulsory drug treatment centres, drug control was not addressed by the High Commissioner during his oral update on Sri Lanka...

ID with the Special Rapporteur on torture

The Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, Alice Jill Edwards, presented her two reports. In the first report regarding current issues and good practices in prison management globally (A/HRC/55/52), she addressed the link between poverty and prisons – with prison populations being largely composed of members of economically disadvantaged and marginalised communities, including people convicted for “low-level” drug or related offences. Additionally, the Special Rapporteur addressed the high risk of spread of contagious diseases in closed settings and called on all Stakeholders to include prisons in national pandemic planning as well as in the Pandemic Treaty currently negotiated at WHO...

ID with the Special Rapporteur on Iran and the death penalty

On his report (A/HRC/55/62), The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Javaid Rehman, expressed concerns at the recent spike in death sentences and executions. As he noted on his report, 2023 saw a 43% increase in executions compared to 2022, with over 56% of the executions carried out in 2023 being for drug-related charges. This is in line with HRI’s findings reported in The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2023. The Rapporteur also paused on the disproportionate imposition of capital punishment against ethnic and religious minorities, especially for drug or security-related crimes. He also recalled on some positive steps, particularly the 2017 amendment of the drug trafficking law which until 2020 had led to a significant decline in drug-related executions. Accordingly, in his report the Rapporteur recommended that pending total abolition Iran imposes an immediate moratorium on drug-related executions and abolishes the death penalty for offences that do not amount to “the most serious crimes” threshold...