New agreement brings no end to war on drugs in ASEAN

Myanmar Times - A global meeting on drugs failed to deliver a highly anticipated shift from a punitive approach to narcotics, disappointing Myanmar advocacy groups.

In most Asian countries, including Myanmar, many small and first-time drug offenders languish in jail, convicted to lengthy prison sentences. Civil society and advocacy groups say the current punitive approach has cost billions but changed little.

Tom Blickman, a researcher at Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute’s Drugs and Democracy Programme, said the UNGASS draft resolution, which was reached by consensus, continues existing approaches.“In particular, ASEAN countries remain committed to a world free of drug abuse and will do little or nothing for reform like harm reduction and decriminalisation, let alone regulation,” he said.

Mr Blickman said that a regional shift in fighting drugs would come down to whether ASEAN countries are open to adopting new strategies. “It will depend on the will of individual counties to provide room for other strategies,” he said.

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