According to the 2021 World Drug Report (UNODC), there are an estimated 950,000 people who inject drugs in sub-Saharan Africa. Numerous human rights violations are perpetrated against people who use drugs, including but not limited to violations of the right to health, right to freedom from violence, arbitrary detention, and discrimination and right to participation. In order to address human rights violations against people who use drugs, it is imperative to start by increasing awareness and visibility of these rights violations and the specific characteristics they take within the sub-Saharan African region, which cannot be understood without directly listening to people who use drugs themselves. The global COVID-19 pandemic only highlighted structural inequalities, and both compounded and expanded the lack of protections for the community. It exposed people who use drugs to increases to violence, including from armed groups, arbitrary arrest and detention and sexual assault. COVID-19 related lockdowns and curfews in several countries were linked to a higher number of cases of gender-based violence against women and girls who use drugs, who also struggled with access to legal aid, justice as well as health and counselling services.
This webinar, led by the African Network of People who Use Drugs (AfricaNPUD) in coordination with INPUD (other co-sponsors to be determined) will highlight the growing movement for drug user rights within the region. During the event, a landmark report by AfricaNPUD on human rights violations during the time of COVID-19 will be launched with the goal of informing future drug-related laws and policies and enhancing and strengthening human rights education programmes in Africa.