Local actions, global voice: The Support. Don’t Punish global day of action 2016

On or around the 26th June, activists and allies in 70 countries took part in the fourth Support Don't Punish ‘Global Day of Action’ – making it the biggest Day of Action to date!

On or around the 26th June, activists and allies in 70 countries took part in the fourth Support Don’t Punish ‘Global Day of Action’ – making it the biggest Day of Action to date! This was another clear show of force for harm reduction and drug policy reform, with a wide variety of actions organised by civil society partners and networks of affected groups around the world.

The Support Don’t Punish campaign calls for an end to the expensive and counter-productive war on drugs. Instead, it aims to promote more humane and more effective drug policies at the local and international levels, that prioritise public health and human rights. This year, actions addressed the issues facing people who use drugs but also those of subsistence farmers involved in the production of crops that are deemed to be illicit, as well as vulnerable people caught in the lowest levels of the drug trafficking chain.

The actions varied in size and design across the 125 cities and towns around the world. To demonstrate this, some of the highlights this year included:

  • a giant video projection onto a jail in New York in conjunction with The Illuminator political art collective, challenging the portrayal of people who use drugs as criminals;
  • a huge Support Don’t Punish mural painted in the centre of Melbourne;
  • activities at the Estela de Paz (Luz) in Mexico, which has become a place of remembrance for disappeared people in the country, organised by a broad coalition of local partners;
  • rallies and concerts in Indonesia lobbying against the use of the death penalty, in response to the recent executions of drug offenders in the country;
  • petitioning across several cities as part of a nationwide campaign for the legal regulation of cannabis in Italy;
  • a basketball game between police officers and treatment patients in Beirut, Lebanon, and a similar football match was organised between law enforcement officials and people who use drugs in Nairobi, Kenya, as well as in Sikasso, Mali;
  • women and families affected by the war on drugs mobilising in Kenya under the Support Don’t Punish and Anyone’s Child campaigns;
  • a partnership between 18 NGOs across 12 cities in France, including speeches, photos, debates, film screenings, graffiti and information stands.

A number of countries participated in the campaign for the first time: Cameroon, Cape Verde, the Czech Republic, French Guyana, Guinea, Mauritania, Morocco, Paraguay, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Togo.

Elsewhere, events took place in Argentina, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, India, Ireland, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Palestine, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.

More information can be found on the Support. Don’t Punish website – and if your country is not listed, please let us know!

It has been a big year for drug policy, with the Global Day of Action following-on from the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in April, and the High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS in June. These actions happened around the 26th June as this is the UN’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking – a day when many governments celebrate the war on drugs, and some even have held public executions of drug offenders. The scale of the actions this year show that the calls for reform are ever-growing, and are increasingly being heard by the media, public and politicians.

The campaign provides an umbrella and vehicle for these calls around the world, and you can participate all year around. There are several ways to Take Action – not least by taking part in the Interactive Photo Project which now has around 8,000 photos from around the world.

Thank you once again to all of the committed partners, allies and supporters who have made the campaign so successful. Our voice is being heard: the harms caused by the war on drugs can no longer be ignored.