Mr. Olivier Lermet, Regional Adviser at UNODC Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, has more than 20 years international experience in leading health promotion and education programmes. He has worked throughout Europe and the Balkans, Latin America, South and Southeast Asia in various capacities, providing management and coordination support to national public health and education policy development processes. Mr. Lermet collaborated government groups and civil society on drug policy and health in South East Asia. He has been pioneering and advocating containment approaches to communicable disease (HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria) and drug use in South and Southeast Asia through the delivery of comprehensive and innovative packages of services for drug users, including Oral Substitution Treatment. In his previous assignment Olivier has been in Charge of representing and managing UNODC in Cambodia (Country Manager) where he, inter alia, advocated for Community Based Treatment initiative. He holds a Masters Degree in Finance and International Business from the University of Nancy, France.
“Drug Trends and Drug Policy in South East Asia Post-UNGASS (UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs) 2016″
The evidence on the response to drugs, accumulated over the years is clear and prompting countries to factor it into their national and regional responses. This scientific body of evidence was shared with member states during the last UN General Assembly Special Session on the Drug Problem in 2016.
There is a need for more balanced drug policies, that puts health at the forefront; focuses the supply reduction efforts of major drug criminals and organized and transitional crime while reinforcing the accountability of the drug law enforcement; and improves the way criminal justice systems deal with drug offenders, to move towards proportionate sentencing and fair and due process.
The health response should establish a continuum of care to drug use prevention and treatment and harm reduction, in which a complete range of interventions are made available to meet the different needs and situations of people who use drugs or people who are at risk of developing drug use problems. Such a response should emphasize the importance of using scientific evidence to target relevant age and risk groups in multiple settings (community, health system, confined settings like prisons).
Supply reduction, which is only relevant when and if the health response is significantly and robustly implemented, should shift the focus from street users and small peddlers to major organized criminals. Supply reduction measures should also work transitionally across the spectrum to be efficient ( from precursors, containers, airport and border control, to money laundering, drug related corruption), and ensure adherence to established and agreed policing standards.
A fundamental component of the rule of Law, the criminal justice system needs to effectively play its role to protect citizens, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable to crime. It should also ensure fair and due process, proportionate and alternative sentencing when appropriate, and adequate linkages with the health response for people who use drugs to access quality drug related services.