The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for the amendment of necessary legislation to provide for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug users.
The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu, made the call via zoom on the sidelines of the 47th Session of the Human Rights Council on Friday.
The session is entitled:” Strengthening the Role of the UN Human Rights System in Drug Policies: The Case of Arbitrary Detention”.
Ojukwu also called for the adoption of non-custodial measures for appropriate cases in order to avoid human rights violations.
He observed that the availability and high consumption of drugs in some parts Nigeria have exposed the young people, who constitute a significant portion of the country’s population, to health challenges.
“Illicit drug use is driven by certain social and economic vulnerabilities and these circumstances continue to be at play even during arrests, detention and trial of suspects.
“Addressing inequalities through targeted anti-poverty programmes, is key to achieving reduction in drug use and abuse,” he said.
Ojukwu said that majority of drug related crimes leading to arrests and detention are for possession and personal use.
“Decriminalising drug possession and personal use will go a long way to reducing these violations as well as result in the decongestion of Correctional Centres and other detention facilities, thereby reducing running costs and exposure to COVID-19 and other health challenges.
“The executive authorities such as Presidents and Governors, in line with the powers conferred on them by the Constitution to continuously conduct review of sentences and exercise their prerogative of mercy towards persons already convicted for drug use.
“Given the stigma associated with drug offences, most persons associated with drug-related offences are not likely to obtain the prerogative of mercy,” Ojukwu noted.
He also stressed the need to conduct regular training for personnel of Drug Enforcement agencies such as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the Police.
Ojukwu called for strengthening of the promotional mandate of National human rights institution by increasing their oversight and watchdog functions on drug enforcement agencies through monitoring.
He added also through visitation of detention and holding facilities and increased collaboration with civil society organisations and other support groups of drug users to create awareness on human rights standards and other legal protections.