Tougher stance on celeb drug users required: UN

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London, Mar 5 (UNI) The lenient treatment given to celebrity drug abusers worldwide is sending out damaging message to young minds, the United Nations has warned.

Criticising the easy ride given to well known stars, the UN's drug control agency in its global report on illegal narcotics trends yesterday said a soft approach by police, prosecutors and the courts was undermining efforts to reduce drug abuse and eroding confidence in the criminal justice system.

The report stated too many governments disproportionately targeted ordinary addicts and street dealers while doing too little to tackle the larger narcotics gangs and letting high-profile users walk free.

''The authorities should ensure that public celebrities who violate drug laws are made accountable,'' report author Hamid Ghodse told a news conference in London.

Young people were quick to pick up on, and react to, perceived leniency, he said , adding this also made people cynical about drug enforcement.

The condemnation from the UN agency follows huge levels of publicity given to the drug-fuelled exploits of celebrities.

They include model Kate Moss, who saw her career accelerate after she was pictured snorting cocaine. Singer Pete Doherty had not been jailed despite a number of court appearances connected with heroin addiction and abuse of other drugs and singer Amy Winehouse won a string of awards despite her apparently heavy use of drugs.

The report said overall drug usage appeared stable, but soaring opium production in Afghanistan was fuelling heroin use in its neighbours and globally. It warned that it has the right to recommend UN trade embargos for countries that export illicit drugs.

Britain remains one of the countries with the highest abuse of cocaine, along with Spain and Italy, it stated.

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