War on Drugs Archives -
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War on Drugs or Human Rights: Philippines President Resists Investigation

War on Drugs or Human Rights: Philippines President Resists Investigation

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte proclaimed a bloody war on drugs back in June of 2016. As of 2017, the murderous “drug war” resulted in the deaths of more than 12,000 ‘suspects’, according to Human Rights Watch in the World Report 2018.

Each time his violent anti-drug campaign is questioned, President Duterte responds by harassing and threatening critics. From the beginning, officials have publicly reviled, humiliated and even jailed human rights advocates. Some contest that not only has Duterte resisted calls to end this bloody war on drugs but has actually gone on to use populist rhetoric to ridicule activists from investigating his chaotic crusade.

Recent remarks from American President Donald Trump are also being brought into question as he seems to believe executing drug dealers is a reasonable approach. Transcripts from a call Trump had with Duterte actually say that he was praising the Philippines President for encouraging carnage in his own streets.

A new report states that President Duterte has actually told his police and soldiers not to participate or cooperate in any probes against his militant anti-drug warfare. Will the Philippines President continue to resist any attempts to curb his brutal campaign?

Extrajudicial Killings and the Bloody War on Drugs

Firstly, let us clarify what an extrajudicial killing is (also called extrajudicial execution). This is when a person is killed by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process. Essentially, these executions bypass due process and are mostly regarded as unethical. The Philippines bloody war on drugs is truly horrific considering their president has:

  • Urged citizens to kill suspected criminals and drug addicts
  • Ordered police to shoot-to-kill
  • Offered bounties for dead suspects

President Duterte has even admitted to killing suspected criminals personally, and all of which seems to fit right into the category of extrajudicial killings. Duterte was a mayor in Davao for more than 20 years. During that time, he stalked the streets with the infamous Davao Death Squad in attempts to find and kill suspected drug criminals.

This is all pretty terrifying. Especially when you consider that out of the estimated 12,000 deaths:

  • Approximately 4,000 occurred during police led operations
  • The rest- estimated 8,000- we killings by “unidentified gunmen”

A huge factor to remember is they aren’t only killing suspected dealers, but also drug users or suspected addicts. When most of the world is working to make help available to those who desperately need it, this president thinks murdering addicts will eliminate the drug problem.

There has been mounting pressure from local and international entities to investigate the thousands of slayings by police. But in a speech delivered to elite armed police forces in Davao City, Duterte stated:

“When it comes to human rights, or whoever rapporteur it is, my order to you: Do not answer. Do not bother.”

Duterte defends his order toward security services, saying:

“Who are you to interfere in the way I would run my country? You know very well that we are being swallowed by drugs.”

This definitely is not the first time President Duterte has made some harsh comments while pushing back against outside influence.

Zero Tolerance for Any Interference

In 2016 a lot of things happened concerning the bloody war on drugs in the Philippines. We won’t break down the entire timeline. However, we encourage everyone to do a little reading into the series of disturbing events. At one point, the UN rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard was formally invited by the Philippines government to investigate the controversial deaths. Then, President Duterte had an abrasive change of heart, saying he would “slap” Callamard if she began her investigation.

Not only did Duterte attack outside influence, he also encouraged police to attack human rights advocates in the Philippines. He has reportedly told the police to shoot these individuals “if they are obstructing justice.”

Duterte publicly condemns the official Commission on Human Rights. He has even threatened to abolish this entity entirely, despite it being mandated by the country’s constitution. It seems as though the government of the Philippines is prepared to stop at nothing to continue waging this gruesome war on anyone and everyone connected to drugs. Now that means going to war with those fighting to defend their human rights.

Examining the International Outcry

Last Tuesday, Duterte said he would accept the UN investigation into his brutal drug policies. However, he claims that Callamard is biased and that he will not cooperate if she was leading the investigation.

In February, another examination into the war on drugs in the Philippines was opened by the International Criminal Court (ICC). While this examination could eventually lead to charges of crimes against humanity, the process itself could take several years. By then, how many more victims could this ongoing onslaught claim? If Duterte continues to instruct law enforcement and military to resist investigations, how much harder could it be to stop the killing?

Human rights groups have said many of the killings by police have been outright executions. However, law enforcement officials deny these allegations. Even with surveillance footage that contradicts their claims.

So far, the killing has not stopped. Between December 5, 2017, and February 1, 2018, almost 50 people suspected of using and selling drugs were killed by officers.

The drug problem is serious; there is of course no denying that. Opioid overdose rates in America have continued to rise, and death rates related to drug use continue to be a leading cause of death in the US. However, the majority of experts agree that our own war on drugs was extremely flawed and ultimately failed, especially concerning the more punitive aspects, and it was not nearly as violent or aggressive as the actions we see now in the Philippines. If all of this teaches us anything, we should be able to see that aggressively attacking and executing addicts and suspected drug dealers is not going to solve this problem.

The best resource we have at our disposal when facing the addiction epidemic in America is innovative and effective treatment opportunities. Fighting the opioid crisis doesn’t mean fighting the addicts. Recovery means treating the underlying issues and helping as many people as possible find a way out. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

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DPA Directors Say White Supremacy Fuels War on Drugs

DPA Directors Say White Supremacy Fuels War on Drugs

In the wake of all the turmoil created by the white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia this month the conversation on oppression, cultural tension and systematic racism has become unavoidable. With counter-protesters in large numbers present to oppose the white nationalist factions, violence eventually erupted. In the end there were 3 dead, at least 19 reportedly injured and a community in chaos.

From the moment the incident turned volatile everyone from every day citizens, to celebrities and activists, to democrats and republicans have spoken out about the atrocities of that day. Outrage and discourse has followed in every form, with some disgusted to see white supremacists chanting Nazi slogans walking with KKK members and heavily armed militia down a street in the heart of America.

While many voices with varying degrees of contempt have been heard, one Drug Policy Alliance director is using hers to make a connection between the ideology of white supremacy and the failed War on Drugs.

The Drug Policy Alliance

For some background on the Drug Policy Alliance, it is an organization committed to helping influence national drug policy reform. The DPA emphasizes the need to have drug policies on the use and regulation of drugs that are based on science, compassion, health and human rights.

According to the DPA, the drug war in America has produced ‘profoundly unequal outcomes across racial groups’. Much of this inequality is said to stem from the disproportionate and devastating impact of the War on Drugs in communities of color, fueled by racial discrimination by law enforcement.

Despite the fact that drug use and drug trafficking rates are comparable across all races, the DPA states that compared to white Americans in drug law violations, people of color are far more likely to be:

  • Stopped
  • Searched
  • Arrested
  • Prosecuted
  • Convicted
  • Incarcerated

Statistics on the DPA website state that African Americans:

  • Only make up 14% of regular drug users
  • Yet they make up 37% of those arrested for drug offenses

War on Drugs and Racism

By now the idea that the War on Drugs has had an unjust impact on minority communities is nothing new. Some may argue these points, but for many years researchers from all over the country have done the due diligence before deciding to speak out against the racial element to the failed War on Drugs.

It has been proven the majority of drug users in the United States are white, and yet African Americans are the largest group being targeted with arrests and charges of possession. This alone has been enough to convince many advocates that white supremacy, whether you want to argue intentional or subconscious, has played a part in the War on Drugs and how it has damaged the country. America’s drug war enforces some of the most controversial pieces of legislation and drug policy, including:

  • Mandatory minimum penalties
  • Stop-and-frisk searches

Both of these concepts have faced frequent opposition for effecting minorities disproportionately.

The War on Drugs doesn’t just damage individual lives. It harms African-American communities as a whole. Social scientists still assert that the War on Drugs could not be maintained without societal racism and the manipulation of racial stereotypes. Even a former aide to President Nixon, who began the War on Drugs in the 80s, has suggested that the War on Drugs was racially and politically motivated.

DPA VS Trump Administration

Megan Farrington, one of the directors of the Drug Policy Agency (DPA) has taken a firm stance on the subject following the President’s comments last Tuesday regarding the tragic events that sparked division and outrage over the past few weeks. In her comments Farrington calls out those responsible for shaping drug policy today, while condemning the archaic strategies that many say have helped bring the issue to where it is today.

President Donald Trump responded to the Charlottesville tragedy with comments insisting we should place blame on ‘both sides’ during a statement that has become widely criticized and caused a great deal of contention among politicians and everyday people alike. Those who are outraged at the President’s comments claim his statements seem to sound like the words of a ‘nazi/white nationalist apologist’, while others insist that because the counter-protestors fought back, they are to blame as well.

Following the President’s statement, DPA director Farrington tweeted:

“There is no ‘both sides’ to racial hatred, nothing ambiguous about white supremacy. We will continue to fight for justice and against hate.”

During her engagement in the debate, Farrington went a step further than refuting the President’s claims; she called out the entire system for a failed War on Drugs as part of the problem with racial oppression, stating:

“The drug war is a tool of racial oppression. When white supremacists chant Nazi slogans and our president defends them, we have to speak out. If we fight the racism inherent in the drug war but allow it to go unchecked elsewhere, our work may take down one tool only to see it replaced with another.”

It wasn’t just Karrington who went on the offensive after the Charlottesville incident or the president’s comments. The DPA’s senior director of national affairs, Bill Piper, also chimed in on the action, condemning not only the president’s statement, but also Jeff Sessions, the administration’s controversial attorney general. While the piece from Piper called out Trump and Bannon, the focal point of the fury was aimed at Sessions and his past controversy regarding race. Piper states:

“Sessions has a long record of hostility to justice and civil liberties… He was denied a federal judgeship in the 80s because the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee found that he had a record of racist statements and actions. A black colleague testified at the time that Sessions referred to him as ‘boy.’ Sessions referred to the NAACP and other civil rights organizations as un-American groups that ‘forced civil rights down the throats of people.’ He even reportedly said he thought the KKK was ‘OK’ until he found out its members smoked pot.”

This isn’t the only reason people like Piper are upset about Sessions. Only six months into his position as US Attorney General, Sessions has already started back-tracking drug policy to recapture the drug war days. Attorney General Sessions has already urged law enforcement to pursue stricter sentences in drug cases and increased the use of civil asset forfeiture.

Race Should Not Matter in Recovery

While opinions still clash over the idea that race played a huge part in the implementation of the War on Drugs, and many will continue to insist that white supremacy has never influenced drug policy, others are not so sure. Piper adds in his statement:

“The role the drug war, and punitive criminal justice policies more generally, play in perpetuating white supremacy should be at the top of the list. At the very least, policymakers who ignore the issue should be seen as suspect. Racial justice requires massive criminal justice reform.”

Either way we look at it though, the War on Drugs has failed us for many reasons. It was far too expensive for the devastating results it has yielded. It reinforced stigma against drug use and those struggling with addiction. And most experts agree that it had a disproportionate impact on minority communities. Even if we ignore the conclusions of researchers advocating for minorities, we should all be able to see that overall the drug war has been a tool of oppression, not transformation.

Much like discrimination and racism, overcoming substance use and addiction begins with raising awareness and being open to compassionate conversation. Recovery, both personal and as a community, begins with acceptance and working together. Palm Healthcare Company is committed to working with every walk of life in every community to try and inspire transformation that can save a life, and change the world. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

President Trump Plan for Opioid Crisis Sounds Like ‘Just Say No’

President Trump Plan for Opioid Crisis Sounds Like ‘Just Say No’

President Donald Trump promised a “major briefing” via his favorite publication… twitter… this Tuesday morning. Many people were expecting something big related to the request from the national opioid commission to declare a state of emergency for the opioid epidemic. But alas, this was not the case. President Trump made no announcement on new policies in the fight against opioids. Instead, he made a comment that sounds a lot like Nancy Reagan telling everyone to ‘just say no’ in the 80s, and we all know how well that worked.

This is concerning to so many who put stock in President Trump when he said he would make fighting the opioid epidemic a priority. Yet, so many feel like he is absent on the subject when it comes to establishing any initiatives or taking proactive action.

President Trump vowed on Tuesday that the United States will “win” the battle against the heroin and opioid outbreak. But instead of presenting a plan to support and reinforce treatment initiatives and other programs, the focus on his comments were claims to-

 “- protect innocent citizens from drug dealers that poison our communities.”

The closer we look at the administration’s latest actions, the more it seems like this administration prefers the failed ‘just say no’ and War on Drugs mentality than actually offering a progressive answer.

President Trump Says Drugs are Bad

Probably the one part people are most annoyed with is when President Trump stated:

“Maybe by talking to youth and telling them ‘no good, really bad for you in every way’, but if they don’t start it will never be a problem.”

I feel like most of us did a good old fashion face-palm on this one… because DUH! We know drugs are bad (thanks Mr. Mackey) and we know talking to kids about drugs matters. That is why programs like Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) have been around for decades. However, we also know from D.A.R.E.’s track record that this kind of program hasn’t been particularly successful at stopping drug use either!

While giving this latest briefing from his 17 day “working vacation” from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, President Trump also stated:

“The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place,”

“I’m confident that by working with our health care and law enforcement experts, we will fight this deadly epidemic and the United States will win.”

Now while it is true that addiction can’t technically develop if someone never uses substances, this still sounds a lot like ‘just say no’, which we all know does not work as a drug policy. Prevention is key and maybe with more detail about Trump’s plan on how to prevent drug use we could see where this comment is going. But as it stands, these comments just sound like more of the same.

After all, Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Session does seem to agree with the old War on Drugs tactics. Why, we may never know.

It is incredibly frustrating to advocates and experts involved in the addiction recovery community, as well as for citizens all across the nation who are hoping for some real change. Why- because we know that ‘just say know’ failed. We tried to just tell kids that drugs are bad for them and not to do them, but the epidemic still happened! And needless to say, just saying no is not going to help us with the overwhelming rates of addiction, overdose and death that we are already dealing with.

Far beyond that, understanding and overcoming addiction is about a lot more than just knowing its bad for you.

Is President Trump Ignoring Suggestions?

The president himself appointed the opioid commission, chaired by Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Only a week ago the panel urged President Trump to “declare a national emergency”, citing the tragically high overdose and death rates across the country. In the report issued by the opioid commission there were numerous recommendations that many were hopeful would come to fruition as soon as possible. Among these recommendations there is:

  • Expanding treatment facilities across the country
  • Educating and equipping doctors about the proper way to prescribe pain medication
  • Equipping all police officers with the anti-overdose remedy Naloxone

All of these suggestions seem like they would make a pretty big impact on the current predicament. Empowering treatment providers in more of the U.S. can help get more addicts off the streets and introduce them to the option of getting well. Putting more power in the hands of doctors to safely and effectively provide medications could help reduce the staggeringly high prescription drug abuse rates. Giving the overdose antidote to more first responders could save so many more lives.

And yet, President Trump did not address a single one of these recommendations, or event suggest that one of them was on his current to-do list.

Instead, he went back to his go-to argument for solving all of our problems… our borders. Again, President Trump doesn’t give any indication as to planning for expanding treatment or Naloxone access. Nope… he just promises to be-

 “-very, very strong on our Southern border.”

Did he talk about training doctors in order to avoid issues with prescription drugs? Nope. Instead he claimed:

“We’re talking to China, where certain forms of man-made drug comes in and it is bad,”

Yes, again we understand… ‘drugs are bad… mmmkay.’ But seriously, this is not the first time that this administration has shifted the focus from helping treat those who have suffered from drug addiction to ‘tough on crime’ tactics and border security. But time and time again experts in law enforcement and drug policy insist that the answer is not in attacking the supply side, but in treating those who suffer now.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told reporters they haven’t taken anything off the table, but that they believe at this point the necessary resources and focus can be addressed without an official declaration. However, looking at what declaring the emergency would have done, why would doing it be a bad thing?

Why a National Emergency Matters

The reality is, we are all well aware of the severity of the opioid epidemic by now. However, declaring a national emergency does actually count for something.

If President Trump were to declare a national emergency it would speak volumes to the scope of the issue on a national platform. Also, coming from one of the highest authorities in the nation, it would have opened the door to making those other suggestions happen.

According to Juliet Sorensen, a professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Trump’s declaration could have:

  • Allowed the executive branch to direct federal funds to expand treatment facilities
  • President Trump would have also been able to direct funds to equip police with Naloxone
  • Allowed him to provide the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and other law enforcement agencies with more money to focus on the manufacturers and smugglers of dangerous drugs like fentanyl

But maybe one of the biggest impacts it could have had would have been on the rest of the House and the Senate. Fighting the opioid epidemic is one of the very few topics in politics right now that has bipartisan congressional support. Declaring a national emergency could give President Trump the perfect opportunity to unite both sides of the aisle and create cooperation and momentum.

This is a vital issue that should absolutely be a priority. Therefore, the idea of returning to an archaic, outdated philosophy concerning drug use is annoying at the least and potentially terrifying for some. The epidemic shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. Maybe it is time to do more than just tell people drugs are bad. If we want to do some good, we need to support each other with compassion.

Palm Healthcare Company values compassionate, comprehensive and innovative holistic treatment opportunities to help save the lives of those that are suffering, and we encourage professionals, community leaders and family members to get involved in helping change lives for the better. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

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Jeff Sessions Wants to Bring Back Failed D.A.R.E. Program

Jeff Sessions Wants to Bring Back Failed D.A.R.E. Program

Talking politics has always been a bit of a point of contention. It isn’t considered polite dinner conversation, and these days the political arena seems more polarized than ever with opposing opinions. However, many advocates on both sides of the isle agree that addressing the issue of drug abuse and addiction in America is a very important topic today. With so many differences of opinion regarding strategy it should be more important than ever to pay attention to the statistics. We must learn from our mistakes. So the fact that the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions still supports the War on Drugs is a little disheartening. Now, Sessions is sticking to his idea of keeping it old school by endorsing the D.A.R.E. program.

The only problem is the D.A.R.E. program doesn’t have the successful record he seems to think it does.

Jeff Sessions Speaks at D.A.R.E. Conference

Tuesday, July 11 Attorney General Jeff Sessions attended a D.A.R.E. training conference in Texas. While at the conference Sessions gave a speech in which he praised the D.A.R.E. program’s work in the ’80s and ’90s, saying D.A.R.E. is:

“The best remembered anti-drug program today.”

“In recent years, people have not paid much attention to that message, but they are ready to hear it again.”

While D.A.R.E. may be the most ‘remembered’ anti-drug program, being practiced all over the country with one of the most recognizable names next to ‘Just Say No’, the real eye-brow raiser was when Jeff Sessions stated:

“We know it worked before and we can make it work again.”

However, the majority of the data suggests that D.A.R.E. didn’t really ‘work’ as well as Sessions thinks. Some would go as far as to say it didn’t really work at all, despite what Jeff Sessions claimed to know.

D.A.R.E. Downfall

The D.A.R.E. program was created in 1983 in Los Angeles. In the years following the implication of the program, states and school districts made a great deal of investments into the program. Yet over time studies began showing that all this effort may have done more harm than good, much like the War on Drugs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance:

“To date, there have been more than 30 evaluations of the program that have documented the negligible long-term impacts on teen drug use.”

The agency also states that one intensive six year study even found that the program increased drug use among suburban teenagers, albeit a small amount.

According to a 1994 federal study, if students grew up and learned the dangers of drugs had been exaggerated or misinformed, they would distrust the lessons. Some insist this led to high rates of experimenting with drugs. Ironically enough, when D.A.R.E. was at its peak of activity in across the nation, between 1995 and 1996, teen drug rates were actually at their highest.

In fact, the American Psychological Association conducted a study including one thousand D.A.R.E. graduates over a ten-year period. After the decade, the study found no measurable effects were noted. The researchers compared levels of drug use, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Marijuana and other illegal drugs

The data was collected before and after the D.A.R.E. program. Students were in sixth grade for the first period of the study, and were surveyed again when they were 20 years old. Although there were some measured effects shortly after the program on the attitudes of the students towards drug use, these effects did not appear to last.

D.A.R.E. to Do it Different

In defense of the D.A.R.E. program, the methods have changed since back in 2012 after the overwhelming empirical data influenced multiple levels of government to pull funding for the program. But it seems Jeff Sessions might want to push government funding back into the archaic attitudes that got the program nowhere.

Back in the ’80s and ’90s the program primarily involved police officers going to schools to educate kids about the dangers of gang violence and drug use. But many call the old techniques more ‘fear-mongering’ or ‘scare tactics’ than actual education. The majority of data shows these methods don’t seem to have the impact people thought they would.

Most drug policy experts believe that the attempts made to frighten kids away from drugs more often backfired. Even DARE’s own front-runners have acknowledged the program’s failures after years of denying the evidence.

The new strategy the D.A.R.E. program uses it evidence-based instead of fear-based. This reinvention includes the “Keepin It Real Program” that focuses on better decision making for kids. We should celebrate that D.A.R.E. is doing things a little different.

But the issue is most people are taking with these statements is that it appears Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems to think the old way was better. This jives pretty well with his ‘tough on crime’ agenda that aims to pursue harsher punishments, push for mandatory minimum sentencing and echoes negative stigma against people who use drugs. If Jeff Sessions makes a shift to supporting the new and improved D.A.R.E. then we can all breathe a little easier, but right now it isn’t looking that way.

Most people who are familiar with the War on Drugs, D.A.R.E. programs and other early attempts at addressing substance abuse in America will know that it definitely hasn’t been an easy road. We should focus on what we have learned about making treatment options more effective and showing more compassion for helping people suffering instead of punishing them. Getting help can save a life, and treatment can offer a far better future than prison. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

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