Human Rights in Vancouver: Do Injection Drug Users Have a Friend in City Hall? – HIV/AIDS Policy & Law Review 8(2)

In April 2003, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) initiated a crackdown in the city’s Downtown Eastside, an area frequented by drug users and the site of one of the developed world’s worst AIDS epidemics. Human Rights Watch (HRW) visited the city and issued a report documenting first-hand accounts of unnecessary use of force by police officers and other human rights abuses. In this article,HRW staffers Joanne Csete and Jonathan Cohen describe how the initial euphoria that greeted the election of Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell has worn off; how a crackdown that was supposed to be aimed at drug traffickers had the effect of driving drug users away from health and harm-reduction services; and how both the VPD and the city tried to discredit the HRW report.

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