The internationally respected
human rights organization Human Rights Watch turned its attention to California
paraphernalia laws and policing this week with a report calling for repeal
of laws banning syringe possession -- which encourage sharing among injection
drug users and increase the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, and detailing
repeated incidents of police harassment or arrest of people using legal,
locally-approved needle exchange programs (NEPs) throughout the state.
The 61-page report, "Injecting
Reason: Human Rights and HIV Prevention for Injection Drug Users," documents
police stopping, arresting, and harassing participants in needle exchange
programs established by some California counties under state law.
Even where needle exchange programs are legal, police remain authorized
to arrest program participants under laws prohibiting the possession of
"Restricting these sterile
syringe programs amounts to a death sentence for injection drug users,"
said Jonathan Cohen, researcher with Human Rights Watch and author of the
report. "This is a high price to pay for the disease of addiction."
While John Lovell, a Sacramento
lobbyist who represents the California Narcotics Officers Association,
the California Police Chiefs Association and the California Peace Officers
Association, sneeringly told the Los Angeles Times Human Rights Watch was
"lying," people who work with NEPs disagreed. Shoshanna Scholar,
program director of Clean Needles Now (http://www.cleanneedlesnow.org)
in Hollywood, said that while the group generally has a good rapport with
the Los Angeles Police Department, some program participants have complained
of officers taking needles or ripping up NEP ID cards.
Jerry Davila, the assistant
AIDS coordinator for the city of Los Angeles, told the Times the same thing.
"We have received some complaints that there have been some isolated cases
of police harassment but I don't think it's a major problem right now."
to read the report online.
-- END --
Issue #302, 9/12/03
Oops! -- "Killer
Ecstasy" Study Retracted, NIDA Credibility on the Line, RAVE Act Still
as Budget Saver? Study Looks at Implications of Legalization in Massachusetts |
Alerts: Medical Marijuana, Plan Colombia, HEA, Ashcroft's Attack
on Judicial Discretion |
Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing
Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions |
Human Rights Watch Calls California's Anti-Syringe Laws a Violation of
Human Rights, Details Police Harassment of Exchanges |
Speaks at UC Berkeley SSDP-Volunteer-Organized Event |
Tommy Chong Sentenced to Nine Months on Bong Charges |
This Week's Corrupt Cops Story |
West Africa Drug War -- Business As Usual, Except for the Lizards |
Canadian Cities Federation Stays Firm in Support of Cannabis Decrim |
New Mexico Church Wins Ruling in Ayahuasca Case |
Pakistani Prison Officials Call for Different Treatment of Drug Offenders |
Dutch Government Seeks to Ban Cops from Enjoying Coffee Shops |
Connecticut Democrats to Propose Sentencing Reforms |
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