We demand the criminalization of online sexual harassment

The Network for Protection against Discrimination held a promotion of the policy document with a focus on rape and sexual harassment “How to effective protection in cases of sexual violence?”. The event was organized within the framework of marking the international campaign 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. Its purpose was to promote proposed solutions for the effective protection of victims of sexual violence in accordance with the already accepted obligations from the Istanbul Convention and to request the immediate adoption of amendments to the.

In the period of waiting for the amendments to the Criminal Code, which passed the first reading in the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia, after more than a year, one can witness inadequate implementation of the procedures for criminal prosecution of the perpetrators of sexual violence, prolonging of the procedures, inappropriate qualification of the acts and unjustified termination of prosecutions that punish victims instead of perpetrators.

Dragana Drndarevska from the Network for Protection against Discrimination and legal adviser in the Coalition Margini (DPNSEE member organisation) opened the event by pointing out that “the delay in adopting the amendments to the Criminal Code means that we still do not have a consensus between the political parties on the issue of protecting victims from gender-based and sexual violence “.

This event, as well as the prepared document for public policies, are activities within the project “Network for Protection against Discrimination: Promotion of Policies and Practices for Protection against Discrimination and Promotion of Equality”, which is financially supported by the Open Society Foundation – Macedonia.

The document is available following this link>>>.

 

World AIDS Day 2022 in Greece

From the Positive Voice news

December 1st – World AIDS Day is the most important day of the year for the Hellenic HIV Association – Positive Voice with the culmination of efforts to inform, raise awareness and promote prevention and sexual health. This year, the actions of the Association embraced 14 cities, apart from Athens and Thessaloniki.

Early in the morning, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited Positive Voice’s offices in Athens, met and spoke with people living with HIV. Among other things, they discussed the government’s latest legislative initiatives regarding the explicit prohibition of discrimination in the workplace for people living with HIV, the adoption of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) in Greece and the problems concerning the Units Infections.

The Prime Minister heard from members of Positive Voice and representatives of vulnerable social groups, such as drug users, sex workers and refugees, what it is like to live with HIV and how the virus affects their lives. A review of the five years of the “I’M POSITIVE” campaign organized by the Onassis Foundation and the Positive Voice to combat stigma was also presented.

From 11.00 to 15.00 in Monastiraki Square, the Ath Checkpoint Prevention & Sexual Health Center team provided free, rapid and confidential tests for HIV participating in the initiative of Positive Voice, the biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences and the Hellenic Society for the Study & Treatment of AIDS (EEMAA) with the slogan “If you want to learn, you put your finger“. A bold and provocative approach was taken to capture the attention of as many people as possible, and the goal was achieved.

The Leader of the Official Opposition, A. Tsipras, visited the booth and talked to volunteers and workers from Positive Voice, was tested for HIV and sent his own message against stigma and discrimination, promoting regular testing, the prevention and promotion of sexual health.

In Thessaloniki, the Thess Checkpoint (as well as the Ath Checkpoint) remained open from 12.00 to 20.00 welcoming the public without the condition of a scheduled appointment. Throughout the day Ath Checkpoint and Thess Checkpoint provided a total of 227 HIV tests.

At the same time, groups of volunteers carried out HIV information and awareness campaigns in Athens, Alexandroupoli, Heraklion, Thessaloniki, Ioannina, Kavala, Karditsa, Kefalonia, Komotini, Kos, Lamia, Larissa, Orestiada, Patras, Rhodes and Serres. In this way, the messages of the Positive Voice reached all over Greece and we sincerely thank all the people who contributed.

At 18.00 a gathering was held in Monastiraki Square in Athens to remember and pay tribute to all the people who have died in the 41 years of the history of HIV/AIDS. During the action we lit candles in the shape of the red ribbon, which has been established as a symbol of remembrance for this world day.

     

     

At the same time, throughout the day, but also afterwards, members and employees of the Association appeared in the mass media to put the issue of HIV and the latest developments in the field back into the public debate. Among others, there were appearances, interviews or entries on ANT1, ALPHA, SKAI, OPEN, ERT, Crete TV, TV100, Pride 98.6, Athens 9.84, SKAI 100.3, Alpha Radio 989, Shape, Popaganda, OW.gr, LIVEIT.gr, Istorima, NEWS247.gr, Ygeiamou.gr and ItsEstella.com.

Calling for rights-affirming drug policies

Ahead of International Human Rights Day on 10th December 2022, which will celebrate the legacy and relevance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ahead of its 75th anniversary, the International Drug Policy Consortium sent an open letter to Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. For the third year in a row, IDPC and more than 100 civil society organisations urge UNODC Director to mark International Human Rights Day by calling for rights-affirming drug policies.

The signatories are calling on UN member states to change drug policies and practices to fulfil the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to place human rights at the centre of all dimensions of UNODC’s work.

The human rights catastrophe brought about by punitive drug policies is well documented by the United Nations system. Every year, UN human rights experts pay increasing attention to the human rights consequences of drug policies, and more are announced to come soon. The recent and unprecedented joint statement released on 26th June 2022 (UN World Drug Day) by 13 UN human rights special mandates, in particular, notes that ‘the UN system, the international community and individual Member States have a historical responsibility to reverse the devastation brought about by decades of a global “war on drugs”’. The joint statement calls on all UN agencies to ‘ground their drug policy responses in international human rights law and standards’, and to ensure that their ‘financial and technical assistance on drug policy’ promotes responses that are ‘gender responsive’ while ‘actively seeking to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms’.

The Open letter is available following this link>>>.

 

What routes do narcotics take to Europe?

DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević, who is also member of the Working Group on Chapter 24 Justice, Freedom and Security of the National Convention on the European Union, spoke in the morning program of the K1 TV in Serbia. The topic was the Operation Desert Light, where authorities in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates worked together to bring down so called drug “super cartel”.

The talk included also various other issues related to the drug policy in Serbia and wider.

The recording of the program is available (in Serbian) below.

An end to labor arbitrariness at the expense of people living with HIV

 

From Positive Voice news

On 24 November 2022, the Parliament of Greece voted unanimously to ban discrimination at work against people living with HIV. It is a special day for the fight against HIV stigma, but also a day that honors the Government and all the parties of the Greek Parliament. The universal support of the provision, a rare fact in parliamentary practice, on the one hand demonstrates its correctness and importance and on the other hand emphasizes that issues such as the protection of human rights cannot be a field of partisan confrontation, but of agreement, sending a resounding message for the removal of discrimination and reducing stigma.

The specific article 48 was passed in the framework of the law “Rationalization of insurance and pension legislation, strengthening of vulnerable social groups and other provisions“, of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. People living with HIV are one of the most multi-vulnerable and marginalized social groups. This article derives from the International Labor Organization’s Recommendation 200/2010 on HIV/AIDS, according to which “actual or perceived HIV-positive status should not be a reason for discrimination that would prevent the recruitment or continuation of employment or equal opportunities in accordance with the provisions of the International Labor Convention 111“.

With this provision, which was introduced by the Ministry of Labor in response to a request from the HIV-positive Association of Greece, discrimination in work and professional life, to the detriment of people living with HIV, is now expressly prohibited and the investigation (examination) of HIV infection by the – potential – employer, an issue that was not ensured by the legislative framework until now, resulting in abusive, stigmatizing and unacceptable practices in the workplace.

The Association of HIV-positive people Positive Voice thanks the Government for the initiative, which follows other initiatives, as announced by the Prime Minister in his message last year for the 40th anniversary of the emergence of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

 

Updated national drug situation overviews for North Macedonia and Serbia

From the EMCDDA webpage

The EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) published updated national drug situation overviews for North Macedonia and Serbia. These reports are the result of an 8-month online capacity-building exercise, organised with the support of the Austrian Reitox national focal point Gesundheit Österreich (Austrian National Public Health Institute).

The report on the Republic of North Macedonia provides a top-level overview of the drug situation in the country, covering drug supply, use and public health problems as well as drug policy and responses. It brings together the most recent data available by the end of May 2022.

The report on Serbia provides a top-level overview of the drug phenomenon in this country, covering drug supply, use and public health problems as well as drug policy and health and social responses. The report contributes to a better understanding of the drug situation in Europe and is targeted at national and international audiences, including government, civil society, researchers and funders.

The reports are available following these links – North MacedoniaSerbia.

 

EMCDDA closing conference of two cooperation projects

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) hosted the closing conference of its international cooperation projects with the Western Balkans and European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) region. The two-day event was held on 21 and 22 November 2022, in the margins of Lisbon Addictions 2022, Europe’s largest conference in the area of addictions.

The objective of the two projects is to familiarise the project beneficiaries with EU policies and working methods and to prepare them for consolidated and structured reporting to the EMCDDA.

Under the theme ‘Drugs beyond EU borders: emerging trends and preparedness’, the event focused on cross-border drug-related health and security threats in the Western Balkans and on drug markets and emerging drug-related challenges in the ENP region.

Over 80 participants – from 18 partners, EU institutions and other bodies – attended the meeting (in Lisbon and online) to discuss the results of this cooperation. Among others, experts took a look at the preparedness of health and security services in the regions to address the emerging threat of cocaine trafficking and use. DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević was among the speakers in the Moderated panel discussion: How prepared are the partners for emerging cocaine trafficking and use?

The meeting also provided a platform for partners to present work undertaken in the framework of the projects aimed at improving knowledge on the drug situation in the region and at scaling up responses.

In cooperation with the Portuguese national focal point (SICAD), the meeting concluded with onsite visits to: a commission for the dissuasion of drug use; a judicial police forensic laboratory; a community-based harm reduction programme; a low-threshold mobile unit for methadone distribution and a drug consumption room.

Visit to the GAT drop-in centre in Mouraria, run by the peers from the population of people who use(d) drugs

EMCDDA new analysis on the drug situation in the Western Balkans

From the EMCDDA webpage

Drug-related health and security threats in the Western Balkans are highlighted in a new report published by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA). Released in the framework of the agency’s latest Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance project (IPA7), funded by the EU, the report provides the latest picture of the drug situation in the region.

The report offers a top-level analysis of drug markets, their drivers, facilitators and consequences, as well as an overview of drug policy and the law, drug use, harms and responses. It concludes with a regional overview of each of the major drug types, focusing on use, production and trafficking. Additional challenges, such as corruption, violence and the internationalisation of organised crime networks are also considered.

The findings are based on EMCDDA data collected through structured questionnaires and complemented by information from studies, focus groups and scientific literature. It appears that drug-related information is overall relatively limited in the region, although this varies, to some extent, between the partners concerned.

The report presents a summary of ‘key findings’, including:

  • Available data show that overall drug use in the region appears to be lower than in the neighbouring EU, although notable differences in patterns of use can be observed between the Western Balkan partners. There is an ongoing need to better monitor harms associated with opioid and cocaine use in the region, as evidence suggests that use of these substances is evolving in ways that could have important implications in future.
  • Harm reduction services operate in all of the partners, but the provision of interventions appears to be generally insufficient and is often dependent on international funding. Data point to an overarching need in the region to increase the provision of treatment and other services for people with drug problems. In particular, responses targeting harmful patterns of use for non-opioid drugs appear to be currently underdeveloped, while, at the same time, demand for such responses may be growing.
  • Western Balkan criminal networks appear to have become key actors in both the regional and EU drug markets. This partly reflects the geographical position of the Western Balkans, which lie at the intersection of a number of major drug trafficking routes (e.g. Balkan route for heroin), but also, potentially, some emerging routes for other drugs, including cocaine. These criminal networks have a significant impact on security, governance and the rule of law in the region.
  • Some criminal networks from the Western Balkans have adopted a new business model of direct involvement in cannabis production within the EU. Their presence in a number of EU countries, primarily associated with indoor production facilities, has been noted. Patterns of cannabis cultivation in the region are shifting and diversifying. Significantly less cannabis is cultivated outdoors in Albania than in the past, while large-scale cannabis cultivation sites have been recorded in other parts of the Western Balkan region.
  • Violence associated with competition for drug markets and control of trafficking routes is a significant security threat. A number of homicides in the EU and elsewhere have been linked to Western Balkan criminal networks involved in the drug trade, particularly the cocaine business.

The report is available following this link>>>.

 

Accredited training for on working with people who use drugs

Our member organisation Juventas successfully implemented accredited training on 17 and 18 November 2022 in Bečići. The training was attended and successfully completed by 20 professional workers and professional associates from the field of social and child protection.

The goal was to acquire new knowledge about the area of harm reduction programs, the legislative and legal framework important for respecting the rights of people who use drugs, as well as understanding the importance of adopting and using adequate, respectful terminology when talking about people who use drugs.

Current challenges, trends in this area and the need for additional improvements and innovations were also presented. Knowledge of the specifics of working with people who use drugs, based on full respect for autonomy and understanding of the life circumstances surrounding people in the active phase of drug use, has been strengthened.

The training provided significant support in working directly with people who use drugs, through strengthening knowledge and skills on practical examples, and gave suggestions on how the harm reduction program can be linked with the services provided by social and child protection institutions.

The training is part of the project “Competent, transparent, efficient and responsible civil society that provides services to people who use drugs in Montenegro“, which Juventas implements in partnership with the Montenegrin harm reduction network Link (also DPNSEE member organisation). This project is financially supported by the European Union through the Delegation of the European Union in Montenegro.

Rave is a crime in Italy

From the article published by the Forum Droghe

The first three measures by the new Italian government, the right-centre coalition which won the 25 September elections, have been a) to block the reform promoted by the Parliament to mitigate the harsher norms which regulate life prison sentences and other juridical innovations b) to block NGOs ships which save migrants in the Mediterranean sea, preventing disembarkation in a safe Italian harbour and c) to introduce a new norm in the penal code which make raves and free parties a crime.

The d.l. (decree law) n. 162/22 of 31.10.22 introduces a new article (art. 434-bis Penal Code), which sanctions the crime of “invasion of lands or buildings to hold events dangerous for public order, or public safety or public health”. This shifts the supposed offences related to raves from the Penal Code section dealing with private property to the one dealing with major crimes such as slaughter, fire, flood, train wreck, explosive manufacture. The sanctions provided to organizers are prison sanctions from 3 to 6 years and fines from 1,000 to 10,000, and the seizure of all stuff and equipment. Also, participants can be sanctioned with reduced penalties, and, furthermore, the proposal establishes a change in the Anti-Mafia law, in order to extend special personal prevention norms also to rave organizers.

The Decree law is in force since 1st November. It must be discussed, possibly emended and approved by the Parliament by the end of December. If it is not approved it will expire. The government itself is working on some changes, considering the numerous criticisms from a juridical perspective, which may lead to its rejection by the Parliament.

Many CSOs, professionals, PWUDs organizations, harm reduction teams, people from the world of culture and policy are taking a position against it and asking for the new law to be annulled. Many jurists support the hypothesis of the anti-constitutionalist basis of this proposed law and many others contest the violation of the fundamental principle of proportionality of penalties.

The civil society organisations and other opponents of this law have less than two months for mobilizing and organizing to fight against this new repressive law, working with jurists, policy makers, the media, people from the cultural environment, etc.

See all the details about the WitchTek 2022, the Halloween free party self-organized for the third year where more than 3.000 people met near Modena (northern Italy, Emilia Romagna region), coming from all over the country and also from other European countries which triggered this harsh move and all the details about the new law at the Forum Droghe’s article following this link>>>.