All too often, aggressors and those who want to establish illegal “facts on the ground” take advantage of the month of August, hoping that their misdeeds may escape notice.
Against this background I will try to outline some positive thoughts, which might germinate during this time:
1: Stop the execution of juvenile offenders:
Young people under the age of 18 are still being sentenced and killed for crimes such as murder or offences to do with drugs. The victims of such extreme severity often come from the poorest sections of society and seldom have proper legal defence. In countries with Sharia Law, their families usually cannot afford to pay compensation (blood money) which might save the lives of the offenders.
In Saudi Arabia and Iran there is a steady trickle of executions of juveniles. Yet there is evidence that external protest can slow down and perhaps eventually end the flow of deaths. Politely worded letters and emails to embassies can bear fruit, even if at first they appear to be rebuffed or ignored.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child exempts those under 18 from capital punishment.
2: Illegal drugs:
At present the production and distribution of forbidden drugs is almost wholly in the hands of criminals. The profits are huge. Drug-busts and the so-called Wars on Drugs make hardly any difference to the deadly traffic and the damage that it causes.
This is slowly being recognized. In the USA several cities have decriminalized the possession and use of some drugs. In Europe, Portugal has changed its law, while Germany, Finland and others are moving in the same direction.
It is high time that the use of currently illegal drugs was treated as a health issue, just as abuse of alcohol has long been (unless it leads on to other crimes). This will only happen when there is widespread re-thinking of long accepted ideas. Harm reduction should be the aim. Members of Parliament and local Councillors need help to see that current policies are a failure.
Progress should also be made on over-prescription of some drugs in mental health and epilepsy cases. This can be unnecessarily prolonged, when lighter doses would be sufficient. Mistakes by busy GPs may be the cause, and this point could be taken up with NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence).