SOCIETY
Support don’t punish – Global action against punishment for using drugs
21 June, 2018
Every year on May 6 people around the world organize actions (gatherings, marches and Flash Mobs) to call for better drug policies in public health and human rights. The campaign “Support don’t punish” aims to attract positive media attention and raise awareness of the campaign issues. 26th June is the day of the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and a day on which many governments celebrate their contribution to “war on drugs”. By organizing actions, people
can help to “reclaim” the message on this important day.


Support. Don't Punish.

Georgia sides with the campaign every year. The demonstration intends to urge the government to alter repressive drug policy and to begin a humane approach to the problem. They believe the problem should be a matter of Human Rights and Social Welfare rather than Police and government structures. The Government should offer services for rehabilitation, medical treatment and re-socialization. The action aims to replace punishment of people who already try to quit drugs.
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Demonstrations for drug liberalization, Photo courtesy: www.sputnik-georgia.com


The action “Support, don’t punish” will be held on June 26 at Dedaena Park by Drug Policy National Platform. The members of the society claim that the Government’s Policy proved ineffective since the following reasons:

1.”Zero Tolerance” and repressive drug policy do not work, the number of drug users are increasing every year. At present, there are 52,000 drug users with severe problems.

2. In terms of problematic drug users in the world, Georgia has 3rd place preceded by Russia and the Seychelles.

3. There is not a single proper residential treatment center in Georgia.

4. 18 million GEL of state budget is directed at compulsory drug testing in the streets. In 2017 68% of the finances were spent on those who turned out to be non-users. 

5. According to the latest account (14.03.2017) of Council Of Europe – Annual Penal Statistics, 30.8% of the prisoners serve a sentence for drugs, which means that every 3rd prisoner is a victim of the repressive drug policy.

6. Based on various researches, in case of no rehabilitation 100% of the charged come back to using drugs (89% immediately after leaving the prison, 11% in months).
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Supporting Georgian clubs, Photo courtesy: www.facebook.com/WNmovement/

Recent events in Georgia is a proof of the problem severity. At the end of the last month, there were demonstrations on the main avenue of the capital against conducted raids at most popular Georgian clubs Bassiani and Café Gallery. As the representatives of Ministry of Internal Affairs say, the reason behind the special raid was to detain drug traders who have been tracked at the venues. The armed raids had been part of the government's response to five drug deaths over the past two weeks. Georgians were divided into two parts: one group who justified and the other group who criticized the government’s action. There was a misunderstanding why drug dealers were not detained outside the club, who let harmful drugs spread throughout the country or why only two clubs were at fault ( Bassiani is popular not only in Georgia but around the world). Eventually, demonstrations were ended by meeting with the minister of Internal Affairs who pledged demonstrators to revise drug policy.
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Supporting Georgian clubs, Photo courtesy: www.facebook.com/WNmovement/

In March, Transparency International Georgia published a survey about different issues. One of them was the issue of drugs. It turned out that majority of interviewees consider that people should not go to prison for light and club drugs. While there is only 10 % difference between for and against serving a sentence for using Intravenous drugs.
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Interviewees support serving a sentence for using light, club and Intravenous drugs by 25%, 36%, 53% respectively as opposed to 72%, 56% and 43% who are against the statement, Photo courtesy: http://www.transparency.ge

The organizers of Drug Policy National Platform believes that the only solution to the problem is support, solidarity and education.

The first photo courtesy:www.fileserver.idpc.net

Related stories:

Georgia’s techno club Bassiani opens after being locked by police for 11 days

Citizens protest special operations conducted in Bassiani and Café Gallery clubs

Transparency International Georgia publishes a survey about the most trusted Georgian Institutions

Georgia Takes on Drugs Decriminalization
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