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Stakeholders decry criminalisation of drug users 

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Stakeholders, who are at the forefront of drug policy reform advocacy in the country, have decried criminalisation and molestation of drug users by law enforcement agencies in the country.

They said the imperative of criminal justice reform was to adopt alternatives to incarceration for low-level petty offences, while calling on government to provide drug treatment in all primary health care centres across the country, which could be easily accessible for all drugs users.

The event was organised, yesterday, by Youth Initiative for Drug Research, Information, Support, and Education in Nigeria (YouthRise Nigeria), as part of activities to mark the 2020 International Youth Day  in Abuja.

Communications / Programme Assistant, YouthRise Nigeria, Martha Saleh, said the programme was also part of the “Support, Don’t Punish” global advocacy campaign, which called for prioritisation of health and reduction of drug-related harms among youths.

According to her, the platform gave youths the opportunity to deliberate on growing prevalence of drug use among young people, and how the current punitive response to the challenges impacts the health, human rights, and overall development of young people in Nigeria.

Saleh said many drug prevention strategies were fixated on the “Say No To Drugs” message focused on the use of ‘scare tactics,’ rather than giving young people factual information on drugs and helping them develop life skills to make informed choices. The stakeholders, however, recommended to the government that there is an urgent need to involve young people in the policy-making process in governance and promote youth-centered drug policy in Nigeria. 

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