The War on Drugs: UoB and 'Anyone's Child' delivering stories from the front line

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The free event, ‘How to End Mexico’s Drug War’ is being held at The Arts House in Stokes Croft on Wednesday 11th April. It will begin at 7.30pm with speakers discussing the need for policy reform.

The Bristol-based think tank Transform Drug Policy Foundation works to challenge preconceptions about drugs. The talk will discuss their extensive research on the failing War on Drugs policy that was originally designed to protect people.

They are campaigning for reform based on the dangers of drugs. The current laws have created a $320 billion global market for criminal gangs who rarely know what is in their product or who they are selling to. This means that young people are often targeted and the strength of the drug is unknown.

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The reality of drug use puts the UK’s current ‘just say no’ approach into question. The culture of criminalisation and denial surrounding drugs in society means that there is minimal education regarding safe drug use, discouraging people from coming forward when they need help and leading to unnecessary drug-related deaths.

A policy of legal regulation would transform drug use into a health issue rather than a criminal one, ensuring that if people were to take drugs, they would do so in an environment where strict controls dictated substance content and age limits, and where people would feel more comfortable receiving help and education about addiction.

In 2016, Transform Drug Policy Foundation took a new angle on the drug policy debate with the launch of the Anyone's Child campaign. Through establishing a network of families advocating for policy reform after losing loved ones due to current drug prohibition, Anyone’s Child is sending a powerful message to policymakers, demonstrating that anyone’s child really could be the next victim of our harmful drug laws.

Jane Slater, spokesperson for Anyone’s Child, says that:

“What these stories demonstrate is that there is no ‘war on drugs’. It’s ordinary people whose lives are being destroyed by our global drug war. The voices of the impacted families have spoken and our politicians must listen.”

The campaign is gaining momentum, with over 33 participating families in ten countries, most recently the front-line of the global drug war in Mexico.

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Since 2006, over 150,000 people have been murdered and 28,000 have disappeared in Mexico as a result of the increased conflict between the government and violent drug cartels, stemming from continued strict drug prohibition. The victims are often ordinary families and citizens who have been innocently caught in the crossfire. For the 178,000 murders and disappearances, often no-one knows where they are, or whether they are dead or alive. And for each person, someone is still searching.

The Brigstow Institute, an interdepartmental research body at the University of Bristol, has collaborated with Anyone’s Child, to help deliver a groundbreaking service for Mexican families whose lives have been torn apart by drug prohibition laws.

Creative technologists have established an innovative i-Documentary linked to a free phone line, which records the testimonies of those on the front-line. Now, for the first time, these families’ stories will be heard outside Mexico.

Creator of the i-Documentary, Ewan Cass-Kavanagh says that:

"This platform acts as a digital megaphone for the families to share their stories as far and wide as possible, to create empathy and understanding of the horrors of the drug war.”

To find out more about the i-Doc and how to end Mexico’s disastrous drug war, come along to the Anyone’s Child free launch event in Stokes Croft on the 11th April. This will include speakers:

Matthew Brown, Professor of Latin American History at the University of Bristol
Ewan Cass-Kavanagh, Creator of the i-Documentary
Tania Ramirez, Mexican drug policy expert (MUCD)

Free tickets available at: http://anyones-child-mexico.eventbrite.com

For more information on how to volunteer for Transform Drug Policy Foundation email: info@tdpf.org.uk

Featured image credit: Anyone's Child


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