skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 200402 Find in a Library
Title: Abusing the User: Police Misconduct, Harm Reduction and HIV/AIDS in Vancouver
Author(s): Joanne Csete; Jonathan Cohen
Corporate Author: Human Rights Watch
United States of America
Date Published: May 2003
Page Count: 31
Sponsoring Agency: Human Rights Watch
New York, NY 10118-3299
Sale Source: Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue
34th Floor
New York, NY 10118-3299
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined police misconduct in the context of the major drug crackdown (Operation Torpedo), beginning on April 7, 2003, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Canada, as well as other adverse human rights effects from the crackdown.
Abstract: Vancouver is the site of one of the worst epidemics of HIV/AIDS in the developed world, with injection drug users being the most affected population; as many as 40 percent of these drug users in Vancouver's impoverished Downtown Eastside are living with HIV/AIDS. The police crackdown that began in April 2003 has the goal of clearing the streets of drug dealers. To date, the crackdown has apparently succeeded in clearing the streets of some of the drug dealers; however, in a brief stay in the targeted area toward the end of the first week of the crackdown, Human Rights Watch observers documented numerous cases of the unnecessary use of force and illegal search and seizure by the police against persons, mostly injection drug users, who were not charged with dealing drugs. These actions contributed to the driving of drug users "underground" and the curtailing of their use of needle exchange programs, which is a vital service for the prevention of HIV and hepatitis C among injection drug users. Street-based health services for the injection drug users have been significantly impeded, causing some health workers to fear a major new wave of disease transmission. This report recommends that the Vancouver Police Department immediately cease all practices of arbitrary arrest, mistreatment, and unnecessary use of force in violation of the due-process and civil-rights protections provided under Canadian law and international law. Further, it recommends that the city council continue to withhold funding from the current operation and similar police crackdowns until concerns about human rights and health and harm-reduction programs for drug users are addressed. Other recommendations are directed to the government of the city of Vancouver, to the government of the Province of British Columbia, and to the Federal Government of Canada. 148 notes and a list of Human Rights Watch 2003 publications
Main Term(s): Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS)
Index Term(s): AIDS/HIV transmission; Canada; Foreign drug law enforcement; Police misconduct; Police raids
Note: Human Rights Watch, N 2(B), V 15, May 2003
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.