The International Network of people who Use Drugs (INPUD), Recovering Nepal (RN), and the Indian Drug Users Forum (IDUF) were pleased to hear the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is compiling a study on Arbitrary Detention related to drug policies. In response to their call for stakeholder submissions, we have decided to bring renewed attention to the violations of human rights suffered by people who use drugs detained in compulsory detention and private treatment centres throughout South Asia, particularly in India and Nepal. Based on our observations and firsthand accounts we believe these centres not only operate in defiance of international human rights obligations concerning arbitrary detention but also facilitate violations of the right to health and the right to be free from torture including cruel and inhumane or degrading treatment for the people detained.
Harm Reduction International and the International Network of People who Use Drugs urge international donors, philanthropic organisations and national governments to safeguard funding for harm reduction during COVID-19. They should also ensure that COVID-19 emergency funding is directed to, and serves the most vulnerable people in our society, including people who use drugs.
In order to ensure this, harm reduction services must be recognised as essential services during COVID-19. Funds must be able to ensure services can adapt to the physical distancing and other lockdown measures, including providing personal protective equipment to harm reduction service providers, outreach workers and clients.
This also means prioritising community leadership. Communities have the ability to react quickly and reach those who are otherwise unreachable during the pandemic, easing the burden off the overall healthcare system.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have partnered with the Global Commission on Drug Policy on a series of videos featuring discussing with members of the Global Commission and people who use drugs from all across the world. These conversations not only aim to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on communities of people who use drugs, but about the effects on drug user-led advocacy and how the pandemic has underscored why criminalisation and stigmatisation remain important barriers to dismantle.
The videos which have been released so far:
When the world first started reacting to the spread of COVID-19 back in February, the directors of 3D Research, Cheryl White and Russell Newcombe (firstname.lastname@example.org), created a comprehensive set of guidelines for people who use drugs to follow in order to keep safe during the pandemic. These guidelines were shared widely and adapted into resources which have been used by communities of people who use drugs all over the world.
3D Research have developed additional tips and guidelines for avoiding COVID-19 targeted more specifically at people using heroin/opioids, people selling drugs, and people buying drugs as well as additional general guidance for people who use drugs. INPUD has teamed with them to produce four sets of leaflets containing all of the necessary precautions and guidance members of the global community of people who use drugs should follow to keep safe during this time. These resources can be easily printed in color or black & white and are intended to be disseminated amongst peer-led networks and harm reduction service providers.
The following guidelines were developed by Russell Newcombe and Cheryl White (of 3D Research: email@example.com) for dissemination among the global community.
This advice aims to protect you, your customers, the police, and everyone. It is safer for one dealer to visit several customers than for several customers to visit one dealer, but both options are covered below.
DELIVERING TO THE HOMES/LOCATIONS OF CUSTOMERS
1) Before leaving to visit your customers, protect yourself with at least a mask and gloves, and take a charged phone with up to date numbers for lawyers or useful contacts in case things go wrong
2) Avoid hiding the drug packages inside your mouth, anus or vagina – if you do, clean them with an alcohol-based sanitizer first. If you are carrying groceries as a cover for your dealing, consider hiding your drugs and money at the bottom of the bag/box
3) Rehearse a valid reason for why are you are outside to give to police if they stop you and ask where you’re going – and use ‘props’ to back this up. For instance, be prepared to say that you’re going shopping for yourself or a vulnerable person, making sure that you are carrying a shopping bag and that you have details of your supermarket and/or an address close to where your customer lives. Or consider dressing as a delivery driver, healthcare worker or other essential worker
4) Stay at least 6 feet away from your customers and all other people you meet - though note that the police are allowed to come closer to you. Be respectful to the police