The International Overdose Day marked around SEE

On the occasion of the International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), DPNSEE issued a press release underlining the importance of awareness and fighting stigma on overdose and presenting data about the issue worldwide and especially in Serbia. The release was published by the national Press agency Tanjug and several other media and portals.

The press release is downloadable following this link>>>

In Montenegro, NGO Juventas also issued a press release (supported by the NGO 4 Life) and held a press conference where Marija Mijović, coordinator of Programme of direct assistance to the people in risk of social exclusion presented situation in the country. A movie “Overdose”, directed by Mladen Vujović, outreach worker at the Drop-in Centre of NGO Juventas, Montenegro in cooperation with the Hungarian Drug reporters, was screened at the Green Montenegro International Film Festval.

Our colleagues from the Romanian Harm Reduction Network created a special video for this year’s IOAD campaign. Have a look at “Voices of the drug users. Episode 1”

Association AREAL and AREALTRIBE group from Slovenia organized a workshop dedicated to the International overdose awareness day on 1 September 2019 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Participants were educated how to respond if an individual finds himself or herself in that position.

Our colleagues from the Healthy Options Skopje (HOPS) promoted widely their webpages related to overdose and drugs

Thousands of people die each year from drug overdose and the fact is, overdose is an increasing global problem. Spreading the message that the tragedy of overdose and injury is preventable, International Overdose Awareness Day raise awareness of overdose and reduces the stigma associated with the drug-related death. Also, the day of awareness is providing support to families and loved ones of overdose victims, so that no one is forgotten.

Time to remember – time to act.

Our new website

DPNSEE Office team is proud to present our new website. This is a result of a great work of our colleagues Snežana and Nenad and expert work from Vuk Ninić from STANDARD-E.

Besides visual and improvements in organisation of the site, we updated two important services and made them easily available.

At the Resource Centre, you can currently search through more than 360 documents classified in 7 categories, from 12 countries of the region (including even Turkey) and international, on 11 languages. Thank you once again to our recent volunteer Marija Spasić and Staff members Irena Molnar and Nenad Maletin for compiling such a comprehensive collection of documents and Nenad again for making it available for web search and download.

The pages for the Glossary of terms used in drug policy currently provide you with the on-line versions of the Glossary in English and Serbian. We are in process of uploading the versions in Spanish, Bosnian and Montenegrin and connecting them to establish relations between terms in different languages. PDF versions are already available from the website. Thank you to our recent volunteer Vladana Stepanović for collecting most of the terms and many other colleagues who helped with additions and translations.

Two more new pages are also in the current version – those for DPNSEE Projects and Publications.

We hope that you shall like, use, link and promote our website. Also, we welcome all your comments which can be of help to making this website useful.

We would very much appreciate your suggestions for new terms for the Glossary (or improved texts for existing terms) and documents for the Resource Centre (or information about new versions of the existing documents).

Serbia celebrated the International day against drugs

The Office for combating drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia organised a conference in occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Belgrade on 26 June 2019. Representatives of international organisations, governmental institutions, civil society and media joined to hear about latest experiences and successful stories in fighting drug abuse and support to the people who use drugs.

After the welcome and introductory speech from the Director of the Office Milan Pekić, presentation followed:

  • A comparative analysis of the statistic data about drug seizures in 2018 – Radomir Popović, Office for combating drugs
  • Modern approach to treatment and curing drug addiction – Dr Diana Raketić, Special hospital for addictions
  • Psycho-social interventions and re-integration process of people with drug disorder in Serbia – Milka Kalaba, The Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy
  • Misuse of drugs in adolescence – Dr Svetislav Mitrović, Institute for mental health
  • New psychoactive substances and new trends in drug use – Dr Jelena Janković, Ministry of Health
  • Treatment of addiction of people in prisons – Dr Maja Paunović, Special prison hospital
  • Role of media in drug prevention and fighting stigma of ex-drug addicts – Mladen Mijatović, Member of the Committee for fighting narcomania in schools

The civil society had an important role too with Aleksandar Žugić from the Association Izlazak presenting Evaluation of multi-sectorial meetings they held in local communities, while Irena Molnar from NGO Re Generacija spoke about the “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign. She also presented the results of the research on “Discrimination of people who use drugs” prepared by DPNSEE.

The conclusion of the conference is that cooperation between different stakeholders is very much needed, as well as education of people from different professions (health workers, police, teachers and others, including civil society activists) on drug addiction and human rights.

The Support. Don’t Punish campaign launched in South East Europe

For the launch of the Global Day of Action, DPNSEE organised a “Kick-off event” to start the campaign in South East Europe. The event was held in the EU Info Centre in Belgrade, Kralja Milana 7, on 19 June 2019.

Besides journalists, representatives of colleague civil society organisations, UN agencies, Office for combating drugs and political parties were present.

Representatives of the Network presented the key findings from baseline research on “Documenting Drug Related Cases of Discrimination”. This small scale research aims on raising awareness on existing discrimination in different areas of everyday life, map the situation and make a base for the further advocacy actions in decreasing stigma and discrimination towards people who use drugs.

DPNSEE also presented the proposal for decriminalisation of drug use and possession made to the Working group on changes to the Criminal Law in Serbia. The proposal was submitted to the Working Group for amendments to the Criminal Law but unfortunately was not supported.

DPNSEE member organisation Prevent presented results of the regional project “Budget Advocacy Monitoring in South East Europe” in Serbia. That included analysis of the national budgets for 4 last years with a specific focus on health and harm reduction, execution of the budget and excises, and the Declaration for sustainable national response to HIV.

Re Generation presented the results of their research “How the closing of the needle exchange programs affected the access to harm reduction services in two cities – Belgrade and Budapest“.

Finally, DPNSEE representatives presented the activities in the region in scope of the Support. Don’t Punish campaign.

To find out what is planned in your city or country, follow this link>>>

To see more about the campaign worldwide, follow this link>>>

DPNSEE Quarterly published

We published first issue of our newsletter in 2019 – DPNSEE Quarterly. It newsletter present the news from the Network, the news from the region and around the world in the field of drug policy.

In the DPNSEE Quarterly January – March issue, you can read about:

  • The meeting of the Board of the Drug Policy Network South East Europe, held from 25 to 27 February 2019 in DPNSEE Office in Belgrade, Serbia
  • The 62 Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, held in March 2019
  • The multi-country project ‘Sustainability of services for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia region’
  • The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) – an annual report by the US Department of State to Congress
  • News from the member organisations of the Network
  • And find about upcoming events

Read or download the DPNSEE Quarterly following this link>>>

Nova stranka first to sign “Declaration on Sustainable National Response to HIV”

Nova stranka  is the first political party in Serbia which signed the Declaration for sustainable national response to HIV, proposed by the Group for Analysis of Public Policies (GAJP) as part of their project Political support to the harm reduction programmes. Aim of this project is to invite all political parties in Serbia to sign the Declaration that will oblige them to support harm reduction programmes and their financing from budgetary sources in their future work and participation in legislative and executive bodies.

The President of the Council of the Nova stranka, Aris Movsesian said that it is normal for the Nova stranka, as well as all other political parties, to sign this declaration.  Nova stranka is committed to joining the European Union, and the last year’s European Commission report calls for regulating the treatment of HIV patients, specifically in Chapter 28 where such measures are proposed. Nova stranka also emphasises in point 8 of their Action Plan the problem of relations with vulnerable groups of citizens.

Movsesian invited other political parties to follow our example and make such a civilization step.”

The declaration is developed in scope of the Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in South East Europe project. The project is managed by DPNSEE, and coordinated in Serbia by the Association Prevent.

To read the news from the signing of the declaration in Serbian follow this link>>>.

Serbia completed project application to the Global Fund

The National Committee for fighting HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis, which performs the role of the Country Coordinating Mechanism in Serbia, adopted today the documents which will be submitted to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The project is expected to run from July 2019 to June 2022.

Back in 2016, the Global Fund allocated €1,098,351 for HIV and building resilient and sustainable systems for health. The allocation have been determined primarily based on disease burden and income level. Serbia is classified as an upper-middle-income country. Serbia committed to encourage additional domestic investment of 25%. The first amount agreed during the application in already included in the national budget for 2019.

The project seeks to scale-up HIV testing services for all key affected populations (KPs), preventive programs for men who have sex with men and sex workers and needles and syringes program (NSP) and other preventive programs for people who inject drugs. In addition, the project seeks to maintain and extend support provided by organizations of people living with HIV to people on antiretroviral treatment. The project will fund services provided by civil society organisations and will contribute to community system strengthening. In order to reach the maximum impact the majority of prevention and support interventions will be implemented at least in the two regions (Belgrade and Vojvodina) in which majority of KPs are concentrated based on surveillance data..

The civil society organisations, including DPNSEE and our three member organisations from Serbia Prevent, Duga and Timok Youth Centre, actively participated in creating the new national HIV strategy, in the work of the National Committee and the Working group for negotiations with the Global Fund.

Meeting of the Working group for negotiations with the representatives of the Global Fund

CND Wrap-up

The 62 Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs ended on Friday 22 March. It was a large event, with 2.400 participants, more than 130 Member States and representatives of over 90 civil society organisations and over 20 intergovernmental organisations. The CND 2019 was chaired by Ambassador Mirghani Abbaker Altayeb Bakhet of Sudan.

The meeting began with a ministerial segment on 14 and 15 March aimed at taking stock of the implementation of the commitments made to jointly address and counter the world drug problem.

The regular segment, which lasted for the full working week, agreed on 8 resolutions on various topics including strengthening forensic detection capability for synthetic drugs, promoting alternative development and measures to prevent transmission of HIV for women who use drugs.

Yury Fedotov, the UNODC Executive Director, underlined that “We need to enhance our efforts to bridge the gaps in addressing the persistent and emerging trends and challenges through the implementation of balanced, integrated, comprehensive, multidisciplinary and scientific evidence-based responses to the world drug problem.

The civil society was not so happy with the event. Even though it was clear and based on evidence that the target to “eliminate or significantly reduce” drug use and trafficking in 10 years is far from achieving, the declaration adopted at the ministerial segment doesn’t include a significant shift and genuine re-orientation of drug policies which is so much needed. The civil society strongly recommend ending punitive approaches towards vulnerable groups and individuals. Ann Fordham, the Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Consortium, speaking in the name of a global network of more than 180 NGOs including DPNSEE and several our member organisations, emphasized that “Ending punitive approaches towards those most vulnerable will require that global drug control going forward puts people and communities at the centre, and seeks to improve their living conditions, address their situations of vulnerability and protect their human rights, in line with the SDG vision of ‘leaving no one behind’.

Ann Fordham addressing the Ministerial segment of the 62 CND

The World Health Organisation proposal to reschedule cannabis from schedule IV (same class as heroin, with high abuse potential and no recognised medical value) to schedule I was not discussed with the explanation that it would “allow more time for Member States’ delegations to consider such a potentially radical decision”. But, it is clear that there is no consensus to adopt it and most probably it won’t be reached in a near future.

At the regular meeting, countries mainly glorify their results in fighting drug problem, and civil society organisations mainly appear only on side events so we started discussing if our presence there has a significant effect. As Péter Sárosi, Editor in Chief of the Drugreporter, well noted “Several member states still consider NGOs hostile forces who disturb the business-as-usual operation of the UN“. So, “Tons of expertise and knowledge is channelled to the sometimes rather dull conversations.

Two DPNSEE Board members, the Executive Director and a few representatives of member organisations participated in both segments the CND. It was a good opportunity to exchange with our partners, make new and build new contacts, present our work and learn about new developments. Most of the benefit was achieved at the side events and in informal contacts.

***

The side events held on 21 March you may be interested to hear about:

Our recent news on 62 CND:

 

Consultations in the Office for Combating Drugs

The Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia held a meeting with civil society organisations on 25 February 2019. Besides 11 organisations which signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the Office in 2018 (including DPNSEE and 3 of its member organisations), 4 new organisations which established formal cooperation with the Office also joined the meeting.

Most of the meeting was dedicated to the proposals for amendments to the Criminal Law related to drug-related offenses. DPNSEE sent a formal proposal to the Ministry of Justice, the Working group for changes of the Criminal Law it created, The Office for Combating Drugs and the Office for support to the civil society organisations proposing decriminalisation of drug use and possession for personal use and protection of civil society organisations providing services to drug users. The proposal is available in Serbian following this link>>>.

The proposal was appraised as a very good, clear, concise and evidence based, but concerns were expressed that it may not be supported due to current situation in the country and increased conservatism in relation to the drug use. The participants emphasized the need to establish a system of accreditation of civil society organisations services. It should include all elements of their work, from prevention, harm reduction, treatment to social services and rehabilitation.

The Office will, through their representative, present civil society proposals to the Working group for changes of the Criminal Law.

The participation of civil society organisations representatives in the Working group to prepare the new Action plan for implementing the National Drug Strategy was appraised as a very good example of partnership. The Office will propose full involvement of the civil society in designing the new Strategy.

The participants at the meeting also got acquainted with the current activities of the Office on Drugs Policy, exchanged experiences on the previous cooperation defined in the Memorandum and made suggestions for improving it.