25 November 2021

Human rights violations against people who use drugs, committed in the context of enforcing the failed 'war on drugs', have been widely documented by the community and civil society.  These include but are not limited to:

  • Arbitrary detention and arrest
  • Extrajudicial killings & capital punishment for drug offenses 
  • Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
  • Surveillance and loss of privacy
  • Discrimination in schools, employers and healthcare settings
  • Gender-based violence and discrimination
  • Loss of access to justice & defendant's rights
  • Racial discrimination

A growing number of United Nations experts, agencies and even some member states have acknowledged these harms, with consensus often beginning with reports and resolutions from UN human rights mechanisms. Engagement with the mechanisms, however, can be highly specialised and time-consuming, requiring knowledge of legal norms, bureaucracies, procedures and even personal connections. For national, regional and global networks of people who use drugs, the question is how can we effectively bring our expertise and lived experience to advocacy within UN human rights mechanisms given our limited resources?

To explore this and related questions, INPUD has published this report to introduce the different human rights mechanisms and processes and how they have weighed in on human rights issues relevant to people who use drugs. The mechanisms discussed include:

3 November, 2021

Harm Reduction International (HRI), the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) and the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), alongside 27 organisations and networks, urge the Singaporean Government to immediately halt the impending execution of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam; and call on UN entities, the European Union, and all relevant stakeholders to take urgent action.

Nagaenthran, a 32 years’ old Malaysian citizen, was arrested in 2009, and sentenced to death in 2011 for importing with intent of trafficking 42.72 grams of diamorphine. The Singapore Court of Appeal upheld the sentence in November 2011, and further re-sentencing applications were dismissed. On 26th October, Nagaenthran’s family was informed that he would be executed on 10th November, and was advised to start making travel and funeral arrangements.

Nagaenthran, who was reportedly pushed to import drugs in exchange of RM 500 (USD 120) needed to pay for his father’s upcoming heart surgery, also experiences mental health issues and has an intellectual disability: he was diagnosed with mild ADHD, his I.Q. of 69 meets the international standard for intellectual disability, and his functioning skills (including verbal fluency, abstract reasoning, and problem solving) are impaired. Nevertheless, judges concluded that his impairment was not sufficient to grant re-sentencing, and in 2017 upheld his death sentence.

1 November, 2021

The following recommendations to the Global Fund Strategy 2023-2028 were submitted by INPUD and Harm Reduction International ahead of the 46th Global Fund Board Meeting taking place from 8 - 10 November 2021, where the strategy will be voted on.


The International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) and Harm Reduction International (HRI) commend the Global Fund on reaching the penultimate stage of the strategy development process. This strategy comes at a critical time of the response as the last strategy before the 2030 deadline to end AIDS and therefore has a transformative potential.

Communities of people living with HIV and key populations, that is people who inject drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people and prisoners, have been pivotal to the HIV response, yet too often, instead of being at the front and centre, we are left behind and paid lip service.

In light of this, and following on from our inputs into the strategy framework as well as first draft of the strategy narrative, we strongly request that the subsequent recommendations are included during the finalisation of the strategy narrative:

1 November, 2021

Today is International Drug Users Day, where the global community of people who use drugs comes together to celebrate our history and affirm our rights. Twelve years ago today INPUD was formally launched on International Drug Users Day, and every year since we have marked this day with a celebration of our diverse, vibrant communities’ accomplishments while acknowledging there is still much work to be done. This year's theme is #PowerOfPeers, in recognition that in times of crisis it is always peers who step up for our communities in spite of the significant barriers we face everyday.

We encourage everyone to participate in #IDUD21 over social media today, using our toolkit found here

This year's statement below was written by Aditia Taslim, INPUD's Advocacy Officer.


For years we have heard lip service from governments and policymakers about how community is a critical actor in the global health space. Yet while verbal commitments continue to be recycled, people who use drugs at the community level continue to experience criminalisation, exclusion and injustice. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided us with more proof that in times of crisis, it is the community who responds first by extending solidarity and supporting each other through challenging times Despite this, the community of people who use drugs around the world continue to be under-funded, under-invested and excluded.