Initiative for the establishment and coordination of the “Greek Observatory for the Medical Use of Cannabis”

In view of the on-going progress in the field of the medical use of cannabis at international level, as well as the current developments in Greece, NGO Diogenis within a network of collaborating civil society organizations – with years of experience, knowledge and activity in this specific area of interest – is undertaking the initiative to set up and coordinate the establishment of the “Greek Observatory for the Medical Use of Cannabis”.

The common goal of organizations involved is to ensure the immediate, unhindered and legal access of patients to quality cannabis for medical use based on international evidence based data and best practices.

Fundamental conditions required to achieve this goal are considered to be:

  • The creation of the appropriate legal framework to support and protect patients in their use and possession of cannabis for medical purposes.
  • The guarantee of access for patients to the appropriate form of medicinal cannabis in accordance to the indications of each individual medical condition.
  • The development of strategies to strengthen domestic cannabis production for medical use, beyond the introduction of legal medicines and cannabis preparations from abroad, to protect both the domestic economy and patients from the inherent risks of a market which is quickly being dominated by large multinational companies and international investment funds.
  • The promotion and defence of patients’ rights in accordance with the European Charter of Patients’ Rights (i.e. the right of access to the health services that health needs require, the right to information, the right of free choice, the right to avoid unnecessary suffering and pain).

You can read the press release here.

Albania joined Support. Don’t Punish

For the first time this year, Aksion Plus joined the “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign. In this framework, they organized an awareness campaign for two weeks, arranging different meetings, focus groups with the drug users related to human rights protection, what tools they can use to advocate for their rights and increase the access toward social, health and legal public services. One of the activities was the “Photo campaign” where we invited different stakeholders to make a photo with the poster of the campaign “Support, Don’t Punish”, such as decision making representatives and service providers of Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Justice, Probation Service Institution, Public Health institutions, Ombudsman, social workers, psychologists, volunteers;  very known artists in TV and famous Albanian singers; service beneficiaries, such as MMT, sex workers, LGBT and Roma community members.

The main activity was the awareness day in occasion of 26th of June, in Durrës. Since most of the population is in summer holidays, Aksion Plus organized a big event on the beach, among vacationers.  For this event they closely collaborated with Caritas Albania, informing at the beginning their 50 young volunteers and on 26th the two organisations went together and distributed information among people. At the beginning of the activity, a big banderol with the logo “Support. Don’t Punish” was placed in an open place with key message on drug policy, in order for the passers-by to see and to understand what this activity was about.

Global Day of Actions 26 June in Durrës

Various local TV stations were invited (Top Channel Durrës, A1 Report). The director of Aksion Plus, Mr. Genci Mucollari, gave an interview on the aim of this day and activity. He called for all responsible institutions and decision makers’ involvement in injecting drug users’ human rights and access toward service provision. He gave some messages to general population, to say “no” to the discrimination toward these target-groups.

The day continued with the distribution of the brochures, leaflets and posters of the campaign. All the volunteers and staff was wearing T-shirt and hats with the message “Support. Don’t Punish”. It was an exciting day for young volunteers and they managed to distribute more than 2000 IEC materials.  More than 1500 existing and new brochures/leaflets were provided to other A+ centres.

This activity and other A+ news and information were widely covered through social networks. It had a good impact on the Facebook public, especially pictures with artists and politicians.

IDPC and DPNSEE was step by step posted and informed with written statements and pictures from these activities.

Albanian artists and politicians supporting the campaign

Support. Don’t Punish – SEE Country activities

Albania

In the frame of the 26th of June and the world campaign Support. Don’t Punish, Aksion Plus will organize awareness activities in two cities, Tirana and Durrës, distributing leaflets and sharing information especially to young people. In parallel, they launched an online blog inviting young people, their beneficiaries and partners such as Y-peer, YMCA, Youth Voice network to write “What would you do about drug user’s rights, if you were a Prime minister” related to the drug policy reforms, treatment, and other related actions.

Other activities also involve their clients at opioid substitution therapy centres (OST) where they organise small group discussions, outreach information, leaflets distribution, one to one conversations and counselling to raise their awareness on how to better protect their rights, as well as to provide referrals to other institutions in case they face violations from police, courts and law enforcement agencies. The most vulnerable groups among their clients (i.e. street users, sex workers who use drugs, LGBT members) are strongly encouraged and supported to fight for their rights and report to Aksion Plus or to People’s Advocate when they face violence or marked stigma. Their six OST centres will be very active to convey the message of this campaign. Aksion Plus will also try to extend the activities with decision makers and politicians though it will be difficult as the general elections will take place on 25 of June. They have presented their ideas on drug policy and interventions during the Democratic Party election campaign.

Contact: gencaxionp@albmail.com


Bosnia and Herzegovina

To mark the day of 26th of June Association Margina planned a series of activities:
1. Public debate “Addiction and drug addicts in the legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina”
The public debate on this subject will be held on 26 June, in cooperation and partnership with the University of Tuzla. Professors and students of several universities (Law, Medicine, Education and Rehabilitation, Philosophy and Pharmaceutical) will participate. The goal is that academia provides guidelines on the suggestions of experts and NGOs that Bosnia and Herzegovina need Lex specialis “Law on Drugs” that would encompass all aspects of this phenomenon and its application in the society like the one in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2. Marking the global campaign “Support. Don’t Punish”
The evening of 26 of June will be dedicated to outdoor activities and promotion campaign supported by local DJs and socially engaged bands. During activities, a documentary film “I want to wake up,” will be shown, which gives a complete picture of the life of five drug users in different stages of their life.

3. Press conference and promotion of strategic documents
This event will be the introductory full-day program aimed to the media and partners that want information about these important documents and the developments regarding the Global Campaign to reach to the largest possible number of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At this event Margina will promote the following documents:
• National Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Drugs 2017-2022
• The policy for reducing harm from drug use in the Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina
• EU Action Plan 2017-2020

Contact: berinabahic@gmail.com


Greece

A group of civil society organisations from Greece will participate in the campaign:
• “CENTRE FOR LIFE” – for the support of people living with HIV/AIDS
• “DIOGENIS”- Drug Policy Dialogue
• “PeNUPS”- Peers’ Network of Users of Psychoactive Substances
• “POSITIVE VOICE”- Association of People living with HIV/AIDS
• “PROMETHEUS” -Hellenic Liver Patient Association
• “PRAKSIS”

These organizations constitute the “Greek Platform for Psychoactive Substances”, an unofficial initiative for joint action among organizations working in the area of drug policy and psychoactive substances. This year all these organizations are supporting the campaign and are responsible for its implementation in Athens, Greece. You can find more at https://www.facebook.com/supportdontpunishGreece/

Activities in Greece will include:
1. Press conference by “PeNUPS” supported by all the aforementioned organizations on 27 June from 12:00 to 14:00 at  Romantso, 3-5 Anaksagora Street, Omonia, Athens with aim to promote the campaign, highlight the actual needs of people who use drugs by giving floor directly to people who are the most affected by problematic drug policies. The challenges in the national drug policy will also be presented and the need for drug law reform and peer involvement will be promoted as one of the basic principles of harm reduction. The discussion will be coordinated by the journalist Mrs. Sotirchou Ioanna.
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/203865003471040/

2. Street event (all the aforementioned organizations) with aim to make the campaign more visible to the general population and to offer some services to people who use drugs (e.g. food, mobile washing machine service, shower bus, rapid tests for HIV/HBV, HCV) Date: to be announced Location: SIN Athina, Athens at 19.00 pm, at Varvakeios square
Facebook event:https://www.facebook.com/events/321069778316468 

Contact: sofia.galinaki@diogenis.info


Macedonia

HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje opened the newspaper articles contest on the topic: „Why harm reduction programs are needed in the Republic of Macedonia“. You can find the call for articles here http://hops.org.mk/mk/content/povik-za-izbor-na-najdobra-novinarska-statija-na-tema-odrzhlivosta-i-potrebata-na-programite.

Subsequently, organization announced on-line petition for support on harm reduction programs in the Republic of Macedonia. You can find it at following link: https://www.change.org/p/ministry-of-health-and-the-government-of-the-republic-of-macedonia-a-petition-for-supporting-harm-reduction-programs-and-hiv-prevention-in-of-macedonia

On 25 and 26 June, HOPS will collect signatures for the petition in the main square in the city of Skopje while on 30 June they plan to submit the petition to the Government of the Republic of Macedonia and announce the winner article.

Contact: vlatkod@hops.org.mk


Montenegro

Our Member organization Juventas with other civil society organisations and community-based organisations, including youth organisations organises campaign in capitol Podgorica, but with national coverage on several activities. One of them is media launch of the questionnaire for young people living in Montenegro. NGO Juventas and the Montenegrin Union of high school students as a main aim of the survey will try to obtain information from young people about young people. They will be used to continue creating activities aimed at young people in Montenegro, in the area of drug use. The questionnaire is completely anonymous. Survey among Youth on drug use you is available here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Juventas

In 2017, the campaign is planned to cover 3 topics: 1) Harm Reduction, 2) Non-existing treatment for underage people who use drugs, 3) Young people and drug use.  Special attention will be given to topic of young people and drug use, which will be a part of youth debate that we will organize around Action Day.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/799566700220674/ 

Contact: tijanap@gmail.com


Serbia

Belgrade

Within the “Support. Don’t Punish” Global Day of Action NGO Re Generation is planning to organize a movie screening night that will aim to address the main obstacles and main problems regarding current drug policies in Serbia and wider. The event will be organised in Kvaka 22, on the 26 June, and the details of the event you can find on the Facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/312618992520893

The three movies that will be screened will represent different sides of public health and human right issues related to drug use, including three different aspects of use such as recreational, problematic and medical and obstacles that exist when accessing information, services and other relevant programs.
Movies to be screened are:

  1. “Clubbing and youth health” – Harm reduction programs in recreational setting
  2. “Medical cannabis legalisation in Serbia” – Medical cannabis is legal in places as diverse as Canada, Uruguay, Israel and Jamaica. How would legalisation of medical cannabis look in Serbia?
  3. “Without shift” – What happened to NSP programs in Serbia after the Global Fund discontinued funding in Serbia.

Participant of the debate are:
Galeb Nikačević – VICE Srbija
Bojan Arsenijević – Re Generation
Teodora Jovanović – KSEA,
Ognjen Martinović – Re Generation

Contact: ngo.re.generation@gmail.com

Novi Sad

The Association Prevent will organise street action on 26 June from 10AM to 13AM in front of „Slobodan Bajić“ student home. The public event will include wearing t-shirts with „Support. Don`t Punish“ message and photograšhing people in the street who will be holding boards with the same slogan. Free t-shirts will be given away to people who want to support the campaign.

Contact: djnebojsa84@yahoo.com


Romania

RHRN with their partners will have the street activity around 2-3 open-air tents that will be installed in the centre of Bucharest, close to the University, to distribute information, the comic book on drugs, some banners on legalization and the campaign, presentations of the NGOs activities and distribution of some drug testing kits (LSD, ecstasy).

Contact: drosca@rhrn.ro

YODA Workshop for young activists in Europe

Last week (15 – 22 May) around 30 young people from 12 countries gathered in Belgrade for another round of workshops organised by Youth Organisations For Drug Action in Europe. This time the workshops, funded by European Youth Foundation and Open Society Initiatives, focused on “Promotion of social inclusion and protection of human rights among young drug users “.  Young people came from Serbia, UK, Belgium, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Macedonia and representative of the Council of Europe. 5 of them were representatives of DPNSEE member organisations Juventas, Re-Generation, Aksion Plus, HOPS and Margina.

The aim of the workshop was to analyse different aspects of human rights violations regarding young people and drugs through mentioned topics, so that official document can be drafted, addressing policy change in order to overcome different problems and prevent human rights violation in the future. Within 7-day long workshop participants were showcasing examples of human rights violations of young people protected under the European Convention on Human Rights and also compared the criminal penalties for drug offences in their countries, compared cases of young people receiving drug treatment and discussed access to drug treatment for young people who use drugs.

Association Prevent in Youth Exchange “To smart to start”

The team of brilliant young people represented Association Prevent in Youth Exchange “Too smart to start”, which was organized in Saint-Etienne in France. This was an opportunity to meet with young people from Spain, France and Albania to exchange information about the situation in the field of drugs in these countries.

 

During the training, great video clips were created, designed to prevent the use of psycho active substances. In Lyon a performance was made, that animated passersby to think about the dangers of drug use. Prevent’s caravan visited along the way – Postojna Cave, Verona, Monte Carlo and Trieste.

Follow their facebook page to find out more on their activities and get informed!

Successful charity auction for the kids of HOPS

HOPS and “Move with your finger “  (Mrdni so prst), together with Macedonian well-known actor Sasko Kocev and a huge number of Macedonian artists have organised a successful charity auction for the kids that are visiting HOPS.

The charity auction was held on 11th April at 19 o’clock in “Public Room” for the kids whose parents are\were drug users and sex workers.

“As a lack of finances we had a great need to make a move with our fingers and to organize a charity auction in order, for the children whose parent are using our services, to continue visiting our daily center for rehabilitation and re-socialization, where they can visit their psychologist, pedagogue, social workers, where they can be creative and their creative mind will be developed, and at the same time we will give them the opportunity to participate in more social activities and visit more cultural events – said Irena Mila from HOPS, now we can organize many birthdays, workshops and events together.

Smiling faces, beautiful atmosphere, “Public Room” was full with beautiful people, Sasko Kocev in element and generous known and famous Macedonian artists, designers and writers were part of this auction. This was the picture on Tuesday evening when we all were moving with our fingers for kids that are visiting our daily center for rehabilitation and re-socialization. The goal is achieved!

We sold all the artworks and we gathered 295.692 Macedonian denars. – Irena Mila from HOPS.

 

“If we want to do something to the society and raise awareness about many things, we need to move just with one finger! Just imagine if we give so much effort for something and moving with our finger is just the beginning and I truly hope that we will “open” everyone eyes about a lot of marginalised groups! We have a lot of artworks that have been donated from our artists, designers, writers, also we have a jersey from our famous footballer Goran Pandev, get prepared to bid because kids from HOPS need our help!” – said Sasko Kovec in the crowded “ Public Room “ at the beginning of the auction.

 

The event was opened by DJ Cako, who is a proud Macedonian ambassador to the United Nation, representing people with Down syndrome, he heated up the atmosphere and made everyone to dance from the very beginning. After a short speech by Hristijan Jankulovski, CEO of HOPS, who thanked all present guests because they moved their finger and decided to help to solve the problem, which on the other hand would leave these kids without the necessary care. Besides the loud auction, there was a silent auction, where people bided on the sheet of paper for all the artworks that were donated.

After a successful auction, the evening continued with DJ Goce Saf, when literally everyone in “Public Room” was dancing. This charity auction, supported by famous Macedonian artists was meant for the children whose parents are drug users or sex workers.

Regional Conference “Harm Reduction in the New Environment”

In Vilnius, Lithuania on April 4-6, the First Regional Harm Reduction Conference for Central Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA), hosted by the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN), brings together 400 participants from 45 countries.

The main issues and tasks set forth for the participants of the Regional Conference “Harm Reduction in the New Environment” are reflected in the themes of the three days of the conference:

Day 1 – Funding of harm reduction in the new environment;

Day 2 – The role of harm reduction in social and medical care for people who use drugs;

Day 3 – Harm reduction – the way to achieve an effective and human rights-based drug policy.

The Drug Policy Network South East Europe and the present member organisation participated in the plenary sessions and the experiences of our member organisations Prevent from Serbia and PROI from Bosnia and Herzegovina were presented during the workshop: “Is there life for harm reduction programs in the region without financial support from external donors?”. The work of Juventas [K1] from Montenegro was also presented at the workshop “Mechanisms and models of governmental funding of harm reduction services”.

The EHRN conference is an excellent opportunity for exchange and building partnerships. So far, the representatives of the Network held discussions with Gyongyver Jakab, Portfolio Manager, S&T Focal Point for Balkan Countries, the Global Fund, Michel Kazatchkine, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and Vinay Saldanha, Director of the Regional Support Team for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Jindrich Voboril, National Anti-Drug Coordinator, Director of the Secretariat of the Government Council for Anti-Drug Policy Coordination, Czech Republic Yuliya Georgieva, Chair of the Centre for Human Policy, Bulgaria, Kirsten Horsburgh, National Naloxone Coordinator, Scotland regarding future cooperation and support.

SPEED DATING: youth organisations and EU grants

The EU Info Point in Belgrade hosted representatives of 37 youth organisations and organisations for youth from 7 cities in Serbia on 28 March for the “Speed dating” event on EU funds. 9 different EU programmes and 2 national were present. The CU Delegation in Serbia, Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Youth Council supported the event.

Participants got interesting information from EIDHR, The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, Civil Society Facility (CSF) , COSME (Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SME), Horizon 2020 (EU programme supports research projects, The Office for Cooperation with Civil Society supports projects (in scope of the programme Europe for Citizens), Creative Europe, Erasmus+, TACSO – Technical Assistance for Civil Society Organisations, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Media programme and EU Info Point.

 

Highlighting problems, proposals for solutions and the need for protecting the rights of HIV positive detainees, at the conference of the Centre of Life

The Centre of Life organized a conference titled “Detention centres and HIV: Prevention, Therapy, Support” aiming to inform about the defence of the human rights of the HIV positive detainees.

The Secretary General of Crime Policy of the Greek Ministry of Justice, Mr. Eftichis Fitrakis, opened the conference with a salute and highlighted that “this conference is part of an overall problem that concerns all the aspects of human rights and is related to health in combination with detention conditions”.

Main part of the conference was the presentation of the research of the Centre of Life “HIV positive detainees and access to Social Rights”, the results of which are based on the interference of the Organization from March 2016 until December 2016, with the Detainee Hospital of Korydallos, the women’s department of the Korydallos prison, the detention facilities of directorate of Attiki and Thessaloniki Aliens and the Diavata prison.

According to the research of the Centre of Life, it is suggested:

  • Accession of the Detainee Hospital of Korydallos to the National Healthcare System, ensuring a separate fund from the budget for the antiretroviral treatment, as well as the employment of specialized and sufficient health professionals.
  • Introduction of therapeutic rehabilitation and substitution programs.
  • Improvement of the infrastructure, conformation of the yards and creation of recreation and sports areas.
  • Compliance with a dietary plan that will correspond to the special dietary needs of the HIV positive detainees, according to their religious beliefs as well.
  • The issuing of the Ministerial Decision for the details concerning the regular update of the personnel of the detention centres, as well as the information of the detainees on issues of counselling hygiene and receiving preventive measures for dealing with HIV or other infectious diseases.
  • Systematic evaluation, from competent bodies, of the applied measures and practices as well as collaboration of the bodies, state and non-state, at a local, national and international level.

During the conference, the competent bodies agreed on the need of promoting a common strategy, in order for detainees to experience dignifying detention conditions and uninterrupted access to health care services. According to the participants, this will improve the public health care issues, at a broader scale, and in the same time it will enhance the level of the provided medical care and the detention conditions in prison.

You can find here the study conducted by Centre for Life.

The DPNSEE Board meeting

The first meeting of the Board of the Drug Policy Network South East Europe was held on 20 and 21 March 2017 in the DPNSEE Office and the Library of the House of Human Rights in Belgrade, Serbia. It was an opportunity for the new start of the Board after the changes in the composition made at the last General Assembly held in November 2016. All the Board members participated, and Staff including two volunteers joined for some parts of the meeting.

The Board adopted the DPNSEE Annual statement, the minutes from the recent General Assembly and the Board meeting and the Report for period December 2016 – March 2017 proposed by the Staff. Board also discussed the Operational plan for 2017 and forthcoming events and activities.

The Board discussed the fundraising strategy, membership fees payments, reimbursement procedures, capacity building (training), volunteers’ work on resource pool and glossary, website, Expert committee and DPNSEE Strategy 2016 – 2019.