The war on drugs extends far beyond national borders and like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the public are only aware of what the media lets them know. This war like the others can often be sidelined as its direct effects on our daily lives are not always obvious. Like for the family’s of British soldiers who have to live with the possible dread of bad news, this also extends to those family’s who have a member who using drugs or involved with them. This could be capture and interrogation, injury or death. The similarities far out way the differences, especially if you look on the global scale.
Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is often considered as an act against humanity that is carried out in war. These war crimes are often over looked when it comes to the war on drugs mainly because people over look the definitions of these crimes and the fact that they are involved in a actual war. Conflict is only a small part of warfare and this beast has many more tentacles to it than armed conflict alone. The international criminal court provides definitions on what constitutes torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that can further expand our understanding of what constitutes a war crime.
Definition of torture
The Elements of Crimes for the International Criminal Court provides that the war crime of torture consists of the infliction of “severe physical or mental pain or suffering” for purposes such as “obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation or coercion or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind”. Contrary to human rights law, e.g. Article 1 of the Convention against Torture, the Elements of Crimes does not require that such pain or suffering be inflicted “by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity”.
For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
Definition of inhuman treatment
The term “inhuman treatment” is defined in the Elements of Crimes for the International Criminal Court as the infliction of “severe physical or mental pain or suffering”. The element that distinguishes inhuman treatment from torture is the absence of the requirement that the treatment be inflicted for a specific purpose.
Definition of outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment
The notion of “outrages upon personal dignity” is defined in the Elements of Crimes for the International Criminal Court as acts which humiliate, degrade or otherwise violate the dignity of a person to such a degree “as to be generally recognized as an outrage upon personal dignity”. The Elements of Crimes further specifies that degrading treatment can apply to dead persons and that the victim need not be personally aware of the humiliation.
Using these definitions and applying them to the war on drugs is not unreasonable, especially when you consider that there is no war on murderers and no war on paedophiles. The vast resources invested in to the war on drugs, the continual arrests, interrogation and removal of liberty are all part an parcel and are not unlike what the Jews and many other oppressed groups suffered. For some this will result in serve mental and physical suffering, and deaths are not uncommon on a global scale.
In the UK and more specifically to this group this situation should not be down played. It is true that we do not have the same problems to the same extent as other nations, however that also does not mean the UK is any less complicit in carrying out acts that violate its citizen human rights and dignity. We have many thousands who have lost their liberty, their jobs, family, and many other inalienable human rights all because they become tied up in something that the UK has decided to declare war on.
If we look at the Nazi’s and the UK today we see evidence for a health driven society where the government believes they have the right to force you to be healthy. Our government today also thinks that it has a right to punish you if you choose to exercise your inalienable right to control your health. Your right to health is not the right to be healthy, it is the right to do with your body and mind as you see fit, without fear of interference from the state. In the UK today people are trapped in the mindset that they are only allowed what has an official stamp of approval, however this in itself is interference from the state and/or a third party and it does not effect your right to refuse. Exercising your right of refusal does not remove your right to health, on the contrary to do so is an act of exercising your right to health. The government uses this false mindset to justify its actions and criminalise people who are exercising their inalienable rights. This false justification allows them to carry out all the above definitions relating to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment without people realising that in doing so, they are violating your rights and you may not be personally aware of the humiliation or the attack on your dignity. It is as simple as this, if it is not a crime to exercise your right to health, then any criminalisation that occurs from it would put serve and unnecessary mental, and in some cases physical pressure to admit to a crime that is not even a crime. They call it a “Quasi” crime for a good reason, because it is like a crime if someone says it felt like a crime by pleading guilty. Being aware of the mind games that have been played on you to make you think having and using drugs is actually a crime, when it is not is one thing, knowing your rights and why it is not a crime is something else all together. Human rights are indivisible, or in other words if one is violated it will inevitable lead to other violations occurring including those outlined.
Source: The Cannabis Utilisation Project