The European Parliament calls for human rights compliance in counter-narcotics programmes

Date: 28 January 2011

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EU Parliament

On 16th December 2010, The European Parliament adopted the resolution ‘Annual Report on Human Rights in the World 2009 and the European Union's policy on the matter’ which pushes donor states to ensure drug control programmes are human rights compliant.

The document reads: "[T]here are 32 jurisdictions in the world with laws allowing the death penalty to be applied for drug offences; notes that United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the European Commission and individual European governments are actively involved in funding and/or delivering technical assistance, legislative support and financial aid intended to strengthen drug enforcement activities in states that retain the death penalty for drug enforcement; is concerned that such assistance could lead towards increased death sentences and executions; calls on the Commission to develop guidelines governing international funding for country-level and regional drug enforcement activities to ensure such programmes do not result in human rights violations, including the application of the death penalty; stresses that the abolition of the death penalty for drug-related offences should be made a precondition for financial assistance, technical assistance, capacity-building and other support for drug enforcement".

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The above paragraph was inspired by Harm Reduction International’s 2010 report, ‘Complicity or Abolition? The Death Penalty and International Support for Drug Enforcement’, which identified counter-narcotics programmes funded by abolitionist states in countries with capital drug laws.

This paragraph is a forceful statement on behalf of the European Union that funders have an interest in ensuring drug control programmes are in line with international human rights law.

In announcing the resolution, MEP Laima Andrikienė (EPP) said, "With this vote, we have shown that the European Parliament stands united on human rights, even on the most sensitive issues".

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