Nationwide dialogues seek humane approach to drugs

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In seeking to address drug and substance abuse, the Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) is set to host dialogues across the country, bringing together various stakeholders to discuss the need for a health-focused approach to end the scourge.

Speaking ahead of a community dialogue meeting to be held in Dzivarasekwa on May 25, ZCLDN director, Wilson Box, emphasized the importance of revising drug laws in Zimbabwe.

“We need to shift our approach from criminalising drug users to treating them as victims of vice.

“Decriminalization will enable more people who use drugs to seek treatment and we hope to reform drug laws to encourage people to come forward and seek medical treatment,” Box said.

Decriminalization is the process through which the legislature removes criminal sanctions against an act, omission, article, or behavior that is considered a crime. In some legal systems, criminal penalties are replaced by civil sanctions, while in other systems no penalties are applied at all.

Dialogue meetings will solicit ideas and novel ways of dealing with drug use, employing a humane approach.

Box said dialogue will engage diverse stakeholders including community members, pastors, health officials, law enforcement officials, and victims of drug use and abuse.

“The key stakeholders of our May 25 dialogue meeting are the people of Dzivarasekwa who are coming to share their experiences with the challenges of drug use in the suburb, “he said.

“Other organisations to participate in the dialogue include Students for Sensible Drug Policies and Women Health Issues Trust Zimbabwe. We also expect the ZRP Narcotics desk to attend the dialogue and people who use and inject drugs in their diversity.

“The dialogue is open to everyone including the voices of the marginalized and hard-to-reach populations in our localities. In other words, we expect the marginalized populations to be given a platform to express themselves.”

Subsequent dialogue meetings will be held in different provinces including Mashonaland East (Marondera), Matabeleland, Masvingo, and Manicaland.