Sri Lanka: minor drug offense, high stakes

Detention conditions of persons detained for drug offences.

< image © Valentin Lombardi.

In Sri Lanka, the war on drugs leads to grave human rights violations and inhumane punishment for persons convicted of drug offences, especially if they are poor. Even the mere possession of small quantity of drugs can lead to the death sentence. Petty offences, high stakes: who is targeted by this policy and under what conditions are drug offenders held?

Ambika Satkunanathan is a human right activist and the former Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. She advocates for the decriminalisation of drug use and dependence. Prison Insider asked her three questions.

— This interview is part of the series Caught in the spiral.

You don’t see rich kids in prison.

Prisoners who have a dependency are deemed to be unworthy of medical attention and are often denied medical care.