Monday, 26 November 2007

IHRA and the Swedish Drug Users' Union address the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights

Today, Damon Barrett from IHRA's HR2 programme and Berne Stalenkrantz from the Swedish Drug Users' Union (SDUU) made statements at the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights in Geneva, criticising Sweden's denial of needle exchange as a violation of the right to health contained in art. 12 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.

The statements came as part of the 'shadow reporting' process to supplement Sweden's periodic report to the Committee. Though the state's report is supposed to document its progress on respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights contained in the Covenant, Sweden had omitted all mention of illegal drug use and harm reduction. This is despite the fact that the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health had visited Sweden in 2006 and specifically recommended that harm reduction programmes be rolled out nationally in order to enhance the right to health of injecting drug users.

In a shadow report submitted to the Committee in October, HR2 and SDUU raised cocnerns about the estimated 20,000 injecting drug users in Sweden and the lack of harm reduction in prisons and called on the Committee to request information from Sweden on illegal drug use, harm reduction and HIV rates among people who use drugs.