In celebration of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, thousands of people worldwide came together.
On Sunday 26 June scores of people from Mitchell’s Plain met at the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre in Eastridge to participate in an anti-drug march to show their commitment to the global “Support, Don’t Punish” campaign.
The global day of action takes place barely two months after the international community met at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) 2016, the biggest UN meeting on drugs in almost two decades. The global gathering laid bare the fault lines beneath the international agreements on drug policy, with dozens of countries, international bodies and NGOs calling for a profound revamp of the system.
Cape Town and Durban cities on all continents to echo these calls for reform.
Thousands of people took to the streets world-wide to demand more humane and effective drug policies. In the past, some governments have commemorated this day by holding public executions or beatings of drug offenders. The campaign aims to reclaim this date from the perspective of activists and victims of punitive drug policies, underscoring their catastrophic consequences and high cost.
Ashley Potts, director of the CTDCC says the aim of the campaign is to link addicts with the relative services and show them they are not alone.
Ann Fordham, executive director of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) which oversees the global campaign, says: “International drug policies are supposed to pursue the health and welfare of humankind, but the current regime has shown it is incapable of achieving these goals. Instead, there is growing recognition that repressive policies are causing more damage than the drugs they are supposed to eradicate. This year’s day of action will see the biggest international demonstration against the war on drugs, with thousands of activists stressing the urgency of finding alternatives. How long will governments keep ignoring these deafening calls?”
This year activists in 160 cities joined forces to call for drug policy reform, with street performances, street art, protests, music events, football tournaments, processions, and even a boat show in the Nile.
In Mitchell’s Plain the initiative was supported by the local community police forum, organisations, neighbourhood watch members, CTDCC staff and residents from the surrounds.