Tuesday 25 September 2018
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1 months ago

Georgia: Severe Toll of Abusive Drug Laws

Expand A sign which reads “Care instead of Punishment” is held aloft at a protest rally calling for decriminalization of personal drug use, Tbilisi, Georgia, December 10, 2016. © Yana Korbezelashvili for White Noise Movement
(Tbilisi) – Georgia’s drug laws and their aggressive enforcement is causing severe and unjustifiable harm, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Drug prosecutions for consumption and possession often lead to long prison sentences and prohibitive fines against people who have not harmed others, but who acquired small amounts of drugs for personal, recreational use. The 67-page report, “Harsh Punishment: The Human Toll of Georgia’s Abusive Drug Laws,” describes the impact of overly punitive drug laws and practices on people who use drugs, and on their families. Human Rights Watch documented abusive, mandatory street drug testing, coerced plea bargains, and arbitrary additional punishments, such as stripping people of their driver’s licenses or prohibiting them from working in an array of professions, interfering with their ability to earn a livelihood. Georgia has partially liberalized drug laws, but they remain harsh. “Every year, Georgian authorities needlessly detain thousands of people, subject them to forced drug tests and funnel them through the criminal justice system, for nothing more than drug consumption or possession for personal use,” said Giorgi Gogia, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, and author of the report. “Locking people up for no more than using drugs causes tremendous harm and does nothing to help those who need and want treatment.” The report is based on more than 85 in-depth interviews with people who have been prosecuted for drug-related crimes, their lawyers and family members, as well as social workers, community organization leaders, government officials, and various advocacy groups and

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