May 19, 2015
¿What is CEDD?
The Colectivo de Estudios Drogas y Derecho (CEDD) was created amid growing evidence that international drug control policies have not decreased drug use, stopped the cultivation of plants for illegal markets or reduced drug trafficking. Rather, the evidence shows that the weight of drug laws fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged population groups and has the undesired consequence of overwhelming criminal justice systems. The group’s main objective is to generate information about the characteristics and costs of drug policy in Latin America, whether they be social or economic, and to encourage an informed debate on the effectiveness of current policies.
CEDD includes researchers from various countries including Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United States, Peru and Uruguay.
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the Transnational Institute (TNI) encouraged the creation of the Colectivo after a study of the impact of drug laws on prison systems in eight Latin American countries was published in 2010. The study shows how drug control laws impact the judicial and law enforcement systems in a negative manner in our countries. The full group report of this study, entitled Systems Overload: Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America. The individual studies for each country can also be found here.
In a second study, the researchers evaluated the implementation of the principle of proportionality in criminal law, in terms of drug crimes. The products of this study document and explore the costs of the current policy, both for governments and for major sectors of Latin American society. They also show the regional trend of increasing punishment for drug offenses, which shows the prevalence of a punitive approach instead of one that promotes the protection of health. Individual country studies can be found here. Also, a short report compiling information and analysis from the individual country studies can be found at the book Justicia Desmedida: Proporcionalidad y delitos de Drogas en América Latina.
In 2014, the consortium completed the study, In Search of Rights: Drug Users and State Responses in Latin America. It showed that although government rhetoric frames drug use as a health problem, in practice, users continue to be criminalized and drug use is addressed through criminal law. This is mainly because all of the behaviors necessary for consumption remain crimes. The criminalization of users has resulted in discrimination and stigmatization. This affects various rights of this population, such as self-determination and free development of personality, non-discrimination, health, information and due process.
The research currently under way seeks to update the situation of people incarcerated for drug crimes and to propose alternatives to the present approach based on incarceration. The data collected to-date show that in most countries studied, the number of people imprisoned for these crimes continues to increase, sometimes at a rate exceeding that of the expansion of the prison population as a whole. As noted, this aggravates conditions in prison systems, which are characterized by precariousness and violations of the fundamental rights of people who—in large part—are incarcerated without having been sentenced.