“Drug policies must save lives and protect people, not stigmatise”, says João Castel-Branco Goulão on behalf of the Pompidou Group’s Portuguese Presidency, to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (26 June).
“As new infections with COVID-19 are massively increasing worldwide and the crisis starts affecting all dimensions of our society, it is usually the most vulnerable, stigmatised and underserved who suffer the most: among them people who use drugs. Decision-makers need to support life-saving services for drug users so that they can respond to the crisis in a flexible and informed way. That's why the Pompidou Group has created an online platform where frontline workers can share and discuss their ideas and actions on how best to contain the spread of COVID-19 and prevent harm to people who use drugs and those in contact with them. In a period of crisis, more than ever, human rights must remain at the forefront of our drug policies,” he explains.
Over the last 40 years, the Pompidou Group has been the voice of the Council of Europe on drug issues. In a changing international environment, it remained firm on promoting a balanced approach between the necessity to address drug addiction and fight drug trafficking, and the responsibility of states to protect the health and human rights of people living within their territories. With the recent accessions of Armenia and Georgia, the Pompidou Group now has 41 member states, and its activities have extended even further on our continent.