FARC wants Colombia to treat drug use as public health issue

Posted on Feb 26 2014 - 1:08pm by Editor

Colombia rebel group FARC said on Wednesday that it wants the government — as part of an eventual peace deal — to recognize drug use as a public health issue rather than a crime issue.

FARC proposals on drug use

  • Recognition of the consumption of psychoactive drugs as a public health problem
  • Democratic and participatory design and implementation of policies against the consumption of psychoactive drugs
  • Centrality of state responsibility regarding the consumption of psychoactive drugs
  • Prevention of the consumption of psychoactive drugs
  • Therapeutic, rehabilitative treatment and harm reduction of the consumption of psychoactive drugs
  • State funding of policies against the use of psychoactive drugs
  • Structural reforms to social security in health
  • State regulation and de-penalization of the use of psychoactive drugs

As a new round of talks began, the FARC outlined eight new proposals to decriminalize drugs and change the way drug users are perceived and treated by the Colombian population and government.

The rebel group believe that the consumption of drugs should be seen as a “public health problem” and placed in the state ‘s central responsibility for prevention, treatment and control as users are ”victims of the criminal transnational enterprise of drug trafficking.”

As the general guidelines of the “anti-drug policy for the sovereignty and good living conditions for the rural poor”, are developed, the FARC has put forward that drug-users should be helped as their addiction is caused by ”poverty, unemployment, discrimination and social exclusion and by the absence of perspectives for life, especially for young people.”

MORE: Colombia government and FARC rebels close in on deal on drug trafficking

Furthermore, according to their statement, public policy must “favor prevention, therapeutic treatment and rehabilitation” as well as creating punitive measures against “big networks that commercialize psychoactive substances.”

The peace talks in Cuba began in November 2012 between the rebel group and the Colombian Government in an attempt to bring 60 years of conflict to an end. At the end of the 20th round of talks on February 13, the two sides were trying to come to an agreement on the FARC proposal that crop farmers of coca, opium and marijuana should be allowed to continue with their livelihood as there are other legal uses for the substances. As of yet, no definitive agreements have been made on the subject.

MORE: FARC proposes to legalize coca cultivation and decriminalize drug consumption

This new round of talks is seeing more of a focus on drug consumption and the need for prevention, according to the FARC, based on “educational and informational campaigns to prevent consumption and mitigate the risks for the existing users.”

Furthermore, the FARC have proposed ”free access to therapeutic treatment and rehabilitation” as ”a special fund will be established, with resources from the national budget.”

The overarching question however lies with the FARC’s desire for a “structural and deep reform of the social security system.”

“A necessary condition for such reform is the immediate dismantling of financial inter-mediation and privatization, as well as strengthening the state public health system and, in particular, the public hospital and ambulatory care network.”

This latest round of talks began in a tense environment as the rebels are said to have lost some faith over the recent accusations against the Colombian miliatary of wiretapping the peace talks while embezzling funds for the war against the rebels

MORE: FARC peace talks on drugs issue resumes amid tensions over military

The problem of drugs and drug trafficking are the center of the current agenda at the negotiating table which has already addressed agricultural issues and the political participation of guerrillas after a possible deal is made.

Sources

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