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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expresses concern about the crackdown on drug abuse in Sri Lanka.

On January 12, 2024, Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed concern over Sri Lanka's use of high-pressure policies to combat drug abuse. According to reports, 29,000 people in Sri Lanka have been arrested for drug-related offenses, but some of the detainees claim to have been subjected to abuse.

Drugs are a type of psychoactive substance that, once encountered, can lead to dependency and uncontrollable proximity. There are many types of drugs, including opium, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and other addictive narcotics. When individuals inhale drugs, the substances in the drugs release natural neurotransmitters or other substances to interfere with protein operation, disrupting the normal circulation of chemicals in the brain and damaging neurons. The amygdala, nucleus accumbens, and prefrontal cortex in our brains are affected. The pleasure derived from consuming drugs is due to the increase in neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, leading to a sense of pleasure. Because of the increase in dopamine, individuals repeatedly use drugs to experience this "pleasure." However, prolonged drug use causes continuous damage to our brain neurons and other vital organs, which is why the world prohibits drug abuse.

Some methods of arrest violate the rights of those arrested. According to investigations, Sri Lanka's security forces raided and detained suspected drug traffickers and users without search warrants, sending them to rehabilitation centers. Spokespersons have indicated that these detainees are subjected to torture, and public strip searches during detention, and some detainees are also intimidated by the police. These actions violate the rights of those arrested, especially when police illegally arrest suspected drug traffickers without search warrants. Even if they may be suspected of drug trafficking, these illegal actions infringe on their rights according to legal provisions.

Throssell argues that while combating drug abuse is a crucial issue, it should not violate human rights. Instead, everyone should be treated with respect, and crime suspects should be arrested through proper procedures. The primary way to prevent drug abuse is to educate people about the dangers of drugs, reform societal norms, and ensure that drug users no longer resort to drugs in appropriate ways, thereby better preventing drug abuse.


“The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has expressed concern over the issue of suppressing drug abuse in Sri Lanka. | | UN News.”, 12 Jan. 2024, Accessed 16 Jan. 2024.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Drugs and the Brain.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, July

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