EDITORIAL

Drugs vs. the right to life



Drug consumers now brag about this “quality.” A vast network of ‘manele’ singers and interlopers was recently uncovered, as old drug traffickers and consumers precisely because they publicly assumed these “trades.” And the case is not singular in Romania. Precisely this openness to drug trafficking and consumption, which sent several schoolchildren to emergency care just these days, returned to actuality the drafting of a new national anti-drug strategy. The previous initiatives of the same kind did not yield the expected results, so today Romania is in the top of European countries where drug trafficking and, implicitly, consumption keep increasing. The official figure of 600,000 drug consumers, including 150,000 minors, is often contested, with arguments, as being obsolete. Drug consumption is more widespread, but also better dissimulated. Drug trafficking reaches bigger proportions, but also is hidden under more refined masks. Thus, a first essential objective of the new antidrug strategy is the discovery of trafficking methods and networks, as their variation and complexity are known as coming from the east and ending in the west.
Romania unfortunately is a gate for the European transit of drugs, but not all of them go to the west and some remain here, for consumption. This is the source of our big problems deriving from the consumption of drugs.
The age of drug consumers decreased to 10-11 years, HIV infection has increased incidence and the medical treatment of this disease costs EUR 10,000 a year for each patient. The National Antidrug Agency makes commendable efforts in order, at least, to keep things under control, but with minimal results. Hence the recent start of a new antidrug strategy. The situation is further complicated by the fact that, in the shape of the so-called ethno-botanics, drugs appear with increased diversity and are more difficult to control. Dozens of new narcotics appeared on the market of late and this uninterrupted masked diversification overcomes the defence strategies devised meanwhile. Prohibiting the sale of drugs no longer has the expected effect given the different shapes taken by the so-called ethno-botanics. And the internet makes the apology of the “euphoric state” provoked by ethno-botanics, systematically avoiding any information about the illnesses specific to them. The transit of ethno-botanics amplifies to the stage of creating more networks of traffickers, rigorously coordinated and acting of a complementary manner.
The media are the first to signal the trafficking and consequences of drug consumption. But these signals often remained veiled by political scandals. Under the pressure of this behavior proper to our politicians, even the media rapidly concentrate on political rows and forget the dramas and tragedies of the Romanian people. These include now the consumption of drugs, increasingly widespread and dangerous because it becomes present among several categories, including youths and even children. The defence measures adopted with big political pomp unfortunately are differently interpreted and enforced from one case to another, even when they are identical.
Let’s recollect the measures taken several years ago for the protection of minors, under the slogan “the protection of minors above anything!” This targeted the parental violence, but not the violence resulting from the distribution of drugs. Even police sometimes refuses taking measures against petty drug dealers, saying that it focuses on the borders, the entry points of drugs to the country. Here, too, all kind of ‘mishaps’ occur. At the demand of the EU, Romania exemplarily reinforced its eastern border, which countries like Germany or the Netherlands claimed was the gate to the EU for drugs coming from the Orient. Then another ‘mishap’ occurred: after strengthening the eastern border, drugs enter Romania through the western frontier, precisely from Netherlands, Germany and other countries whose internet sites trade ethno-botanical substances.
In theory, we have closed the ‘dream shops’, but the virus of hepatitis, HIV and AIDS infections amplified, instead of diminishing. The main cause has been, for long time, the use of infected syringes by addicts. This is why the National Antidrug Agency and other well-intended structures turned their attention to the distribution of sterile syringes. But this well-meant gesture was seen as favourable to the “sanitary” consumption of drugs. The problem thus remained concentrated on consumers, the means of injecting the substances, instead of their strict avoidance. This is precisely that allowed the essential to be ignored: instead of protecting consumers, one should stop them from using drugs and bring them back to normal through social reintegration.
But here comes another ‘mishap’. Unemployment, and, in general, chronic poverty become more acute in the present economic crisis, hence the collapse into antisocial actions, school abandonment and other similar problems which favour drug consumption. This explains the recent increase of this phenomenon in rural areas, not just in the urban regions where it was already specific. And the targets are especially youths, even children under 10. When the consumption of drugs, as a frequent mark of poverty, is also associated with alcoholism, mortality increases no matter the medical treatments provided to victims These tragedies are even more terrible as we know they did not exist in Romania before 1990.
Many such ‘mishaps,’ sometimes favoured by the imprecise provisions of antidrug laws, demonstrate today everywhere in the world that the main efficient way of fighting drugs is preventing the consumption, not just combating it. Detaining traffickers and consumers has been proven, for a long time, only as a way to increase consumption. Not just because the invasion of drugs in prisons can be rarely controlled, but also because, here, the consumption of drugs often causes atrocious scenes of violence. The correct, peaceful behaviour of inmates is no longer a condition for a possible paroling, because this comes anyway. Why? Because of the overcrowding of prisons in Romania, for which the Romanian state pays much more than for placing in foster homes the minors without parents or the elders under medical treatment.
When they frequently question Romania over the observance of fundamental human rights, some EU officials lay more emphasis on the realities of prisons than those of orphanages, elders’ foster homes or hospitals, where food rations are inferior to those served in prisons. If the right to life, health, work no longer belongs to fundamental human rights, then the very notion of “fundamental right” is perverted.

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