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.

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>>>.

 

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>>>.

Montenegrin youth study visit

The Youth Network of Montenegro, with the financial support of the Ministry of Sports and Youth of Montenegro, is implementing the Youth Exchange and Mobility Program, within which four study visits will be implemented.

The Network was founded by 35 youth organizations, organizations that work with and for young people, as well as youth associations and unions. Its mission is to represent the rights and interests of young people, create and advocate solutions for systemic challenges, connect youth policy actors and strengthen the capacities of members.

As part of this program, a study visit was made to Serbia, during which young people from Montenegro visited DPNSEE office. DPNSEE President Nebojša Đurasović introduced DPNSEE and had a warm and interesting discussion about young people in risk and our respond to their needs.

EATG SCOPE project community consultation

The European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG) invited us to the SCOPE project community consultation held on 20 October 2022 with representatives from other key population network organisations on HIV combination prevention standards of care. Board member Marija Mijović represented DPNSEE at the consultations.

The SCOPE project is implemented with the aim to strengthen community engagement at local and regional levels and to reduce the gap in access and use of HIV combination prevention interventions by populations that are most affected by HIV, but which remain inadequately served by the health system and which are underrepresented in policy and public debate.

The purpose of this research was to identify a community consensus working definition of “HIV combination prevention” and develop population-specific standards of care indicators for the delivery of effective HIV combination prevention services in the WHO European region.

During the meeting, the participants had the opportunity to provide feedback on the research process, to ensure that population-specific prevention needs are incorporated and that the proposed prevention standards of care are acceptable and usable for future community monitoring.

 

TACSO Strategic Mentoring Learning Workshop

In the framework of the EU-funded Technical Assistance to Civil Society Organisations in Western Balkans and Turkey (EU TACSO 3) project, we were invited you to participate in the Strategic Mentoring Learning Workshop held on 19 – 20 October 2022 in Pristina, Kosovo.

The Strategic Mentoring Learning Workshop was envisaged as a regional-level activity aiming to consolidate learning from the EU TACSO 3 experience of this capacity development process so far and to provide practical guidance for future activities to the EU TACSO team and other actors involved.

The workshop was organised for 20 representatives of CSOs and CSO networks from the Western Balkans and Turkey who participated in the mentoring process as beneficiaries. DPNSEE President Nebojša Đurasović and Executive Director Milutin Milošević were among participants.

The workshop lasted 1,5 days during which participants have discussed expectations, experiences and learning insights of the strategic mentoring process. The final output of the workshop is a list of recommendations for future similar capacity-building interventions.

The event also presented a networking opportunity since participants represented supported organisations from the region. DG NEAR representatives also participated in the event.

Applications for the 2023 GI_TOC Resilience Fellowship are open

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) announced the fourth edition of the Resilience Fellowship, which for 2023 will have human rights as its theme. Fellows will use their diverse perspectives to collaborate on a range of outputs based around this theme. As Resilience Fund Ambassadors, Fellows will also raise awareness on how organized crime contributes to human rights violations and advocate for better responses to these violations.

The Fellowship builds a platform for cross-sectorial, global and interdisciplinary collaboration between civil society actors, human rights activists, journalists, artists, scholars, policymakers, grassroots community leaders and others working to counter the effects of organized crime.

For the year 2023, a total of 10 Fellows will be selected. Applicants should have a background in any of the following fields: journalism and media; activism; advocacy and community mobilization; the creative arts (artists, writers, filmmakers, and others); community leaders (religious, cultural, youth leaders); academia (researchers, consultants, and scholars), human rights practitioners working directly with affected communities, and the public sector (policymakers).

Each fellow will receive US$15 000 (divided in three payments of US$5 000) to be executed with no other limitation than the principles of professionalism, integrity and transparency.

The Fellowship is part of the GI-TOC’s flagship Resilience Fund, which provides grants and support to civil society individuals and organizations working to counter the impacts of criminal governance and violence across the world.

The Call is available following this link>>>.