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>>>

International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy

Responding to the harms associated with drug use and the illicit drug trade is one of the greatest social policy challenges of our time. All aspects of this challenge have human rights implications.

Drug control intersects with much of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In line with the 2030 Agenda, the UNDP Strategic Plan 2018 – 2021 and the HIV, Health and Development Strategy 2016 – 2021: Connecting the Dots, the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy provide a comprehensive set of international legal standards for placing human dignity and sustainable development at the centre of UN member states responses to illicit drug economies. The guidelines cover a diverse set of substantive issues ranging from development to criminal justice to public health.

The guidelines were developed by a coalition of UN Member States, WHOUNAIDSUNDP and leading human rights and drug policy experts. The Guidelines are an example of the support provided to practically integrate international human rights commitments into national, regional and global policy and programmes.

The drugs issue cuts across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and multiple Sustainable Development Goals, including ending poverty, reducing inequalities and, of course, improving health, with its targets on drug use, HIV and other communicable diseases. Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions is particularly important, requiring attention to human rights across the Sustainable Development Goals. Since the late 1990s, UN General Assembly resolutions have acknowledged that ‘countering the world drug problem’ must be carried out ‘in full conformity’ with ‘all human rights and fundamental freedoms’. This has been reaffirmed in every major UN political declaration on drug control since, and in multiple resolutions adopted by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.The reality, however, has not always lived up to this important commitment.

The Guidelines are based on both ‘hard law’ and ‘soft law’ sources – those that are legally binding and those that are authoritative but not binding per se. With very few exceptions, the general descriptions of rights are drawn from binding treaty provisions.

However, since very few human rights treaty provisions address drug control directly and since the application of general rights to specific groups requires a more in-depth analysis, much of the guidance presented throughout the document is based on UN resolutions and declarations, the general comments and concluding observations of UN human rights treaty bodies and the work of UN human rights Special Procedures. Findings of regional human rights courts and national courts are also cited. Such jurisprudence, which is binding for the relevant countries, is cited in the Guidelines as being persuasive of a particular application of a right.

The Guidelines are not a ‘toolkit’ for a model drug policy. The Guidelines are a reference tool for those working to ensure human rights compliance at local, national, and international levels, be they parliamentarians, diplomats, judges, policy makers, civil society organisations or affected communities.

This longer version of the Guidelines will be available on an interactive website where readers may search by specific rights, drug control themes, and other key words, as well as follow links to source material.

To read and download Guidelines on human right and Drug policy follow this link>>>

Police statement of support for drug policy reform

The Law Enforcement Action Partnership and the Centre for Law Enforcement and Public Health held this side event to demonstrate police support for the urgent reform of drug policies. The event can be summarised as follows: There is one sector which knows better than any other how badly a prohibitive and punitive approach to the use of illicit drugs has failed – the Police. Police daily see the harmful impact of prohibition law enforcement on individuals and communities, and recurrent failure of the system to help those suffering. But the Police voice is rarely heard in debates about drug policy, despite their first-hand and expert experience.

Photos credits Steve Rolles (https://twitter.com/SteveTransform)

This was a historic moment: the representatives of the British police and several European countries presented a milestone declaration for the reduction of risks, decriminalisation of drug use and regulation of drugs. Presenting the statement, Ron Hogg, Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham Constabulary, clearly emphasized that “Prohibition does not work”.

The two organisations call for an immediate end to arbitrary detention, extra-judicial killings, the death penalty, torture and ill-treatment and other human rights abuses committed by some governments in the name of the “war on drugs”.

The essence of the statement is that “eliminating this “war on drugs” approach would mean: less drug-related crime; less violence in the community; drastically reduced criminal profits and funds for other criminal activities; reduced prison populations and less pressure on criminal justice systems; less stigma and discrimination; and improved health outcomes for people who use drugs.

The statement was signed by an international collective of Law Enforcement professionals.

The statement is available following this link>>>>

EU drugs agency and the Republic of Albania strengthen their cooperation

The Director of the The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) Alexis Goosdeel and Albanian Deputy Minister of the Interior Besfort Lamallari and Deputy Minister of Health and Social Protection Mira Rakacolli signed the document of the agreement to cooperate more actively on monitoring the drug phenomenon in future. The signing ceremony took place at the Delegation of the European Union to the International Organisations in Vienna, hosted by EU Ambassador Didier Lenoir, and in the presence of Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner responsible for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship.

The Working Arrangement originates in a request from the Albanian Ministry of the Interior to the EMCDDA Director in 2017 and follows the seal of approval of the European Commission and EMCDDA Management Board. While the agency has signed similar agreements with other third countries, this is the first request of its kind from the Western Balkans. The new agreement provides for the exchange of expertise between the entities concerned and will contribute to developing drug data-collection and reporting capacity in the country.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship in the European Commission, emphasised that “the Agreement will strengthen the cooperation to develop the right common policies to address drug trafficking in our regions and will pave the way for similar arrangements in the Western Balkans.”

emcdda

The EMCDDA began its cooperation with Albania in 2007 in the framework of EU-funded technical assistance projects designed to prepare Western Balkan countries for accession to the EU (and for participation in the work of the EMCDDA and its Reitox network. The EMCDDA and Albania are currently working together to consolidate Albania’s capacity to monitor the drug phenomenon through the use of evidence-based tools and knowledge built and promoted within the EU. They also exchange data on new psychoactive substances as well as expertise on establishing a national early-warning system.

While no formal national drug observatory has yet been established in Albania, along the lines of a Reitox national focal point, the EMCDDA has developed close working relations with the Ministry of the Interior and with the Institute of Public Health of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection. This cooperation led to the financing of the first national general population survey on drugs in Albania in 2014 as well as the production of a Country Drug Report for Albania in 2017 following EMCDDA guidelines.

Albania is one of six candidate and potential candidate countries to the EU currently receiving assistance under the EMCDDA IPA 6 project, which kicked off in July 2017 and will run until June 2019.

Civil society disappointed with the Ministerial Declaration

The United Nations (UN) agreed to a new framework for global drug control: a Ministerial Declaration ‘Strengthening our actions at the national, regional and international levels to accelerate the implementation of our joint commitments to address and counter the world drug problem’. The text of the Declaration is available.

The International Drug Policy Consortium expresses disappointment following the UN’s adoption of a 10-year global drug strategy that fails to deal with the realities and the devastating impacts of punitive drug policies.

In the lead up to this Ministerial Segment, IDPC called repeatedly on Member States to formally and honestly evaluate progress made towards the overarching goal, in the 2009 Political Declaration, to significantly reduce or eliminate the illicit drug market, as well as in the implementation of the UNGASS Outcome Document. Unfortunately, a formal and comprehensive review of the past decade of drug policies was not conducted by governments or the UNODC.

In the statement issued, IDPC pointed that governments the world over have utterly failed to make any progress in achieving a drug-free world. Over the past decade, there has been a 31% increase in the number of people who use drugs and an unprecedented rise in the cultivation of opium and coca. Organised crime has also flourished, with the illicit drug trade estimated to now be worth between USD 426 to 652 billion.

In blindly striving for a drug-free world, drug policies have had devastating consequences:

  • Half a million preventable deaths by overdoses and from HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis in 2015 alone
  • A global epidemic of pain which has left 75% of the world’s population without access to pain relief
  • Severe human rights violations, including mass incarceration, 3,940 executions, and tens of thousands of extrajudicial and other unlawful killings.

Unfortunately, the so-called ‘Vienna consensus’ won out and has once again stifled progress in UN drug policy. Even though the document includes a bleak acknowledgement of the scale of the problem, it re-commits the international community to another decade focusing on the elimination of the illicit drug market.

Ann Fordham, IDPC Executive Director, said: “Although some progress has been made in the new Declaration compared to ten years ago, it is disappointing that governments cannot be honest about how repressive drug policies drive devastating harms, more so than the drugs themselves. The consensus-based UN drugs debate has led to the unfortunate recycling of failed and flawed rhetoric that must be called out. Governments would do well to reflect on the evidence before them from the UN system as well as civil society.

To read full IDPC statement follow this link>>>

UN Agencies endorsed decriminalisation of people who use drugs-test

The Chief Executives Board of the UN, representing 31 UN agencies, has adopted a common position on drug policy that endorses decriminalisation of possession and use. A new position statement on drug policy from the United Nations Chief Executives Board (CEB), chaired by the UN Secretary General and representing 31 UN agencies, has expressed strong and unanimous support for the decriminalisation of possession and use of drugs. The statement calls on member states to “promote alternatives to conviction and punishment in appropriate cases, including the decriminalization of drug possession for personal use”.

While a number of UN agencies have made similar calls in the past, this CEB statement means it is now the common position for the entire UN family of agencies. Crucially, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime – the lead UN agency on drug policy – has also endorsed the position; finally clarifying their previously ambiguous position on decriminalisation.

The statement also supports the development and implementation of policies that put people, health and human rights at the centre, by providing a scientific evidence-based, available, accessible and affordable recovery-oriented continuum of care based upon prevention, treatment and support.

It welcomes and significant step towards ‘system wide coherence’ within the UN system on drug policy. This has been a key call of civil society groups long frustrated by the lack of coherence across the UN and the marginalisation of health, rights and development agendas by UN drug agencies whose historic orientation has been towards punishment, law enforcement and eradication.

The statement is especially important as it comes in the run-up to a ministerial-level meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs this week, which will review the 10-year UN global drug strategy and agree plans for the next one. The utopian goal to achieve a drug free world by 2019 was obviously not realistic and possible with outdated strategies and approaches. It will be interesting to see if a new approach will be taken.

To read full report from the meeting, including the position statement on drug policy, follow this link>>>>

UN Agencies endorsed decriminalisation of people who use drugs

The Chief Executives Board of the UN, representing 31 UN agencies, has adopted a common position on drug policy that endorses decriminalisation of possession and use. A new position statement on drug policy from the United Nations Chief Executives Board (CEB), chaired by the UN Secretary General and representing 31 UN agencies, has expressed strong and unanimous support for the decriminalisation of possession and use of drugs. The statement calls on member states to “promote alternatives to conviction and punishment in appropriate cases, including the decriminalization of drug possession for personal use”.

While a number of UN agencies have made similar calls in the past, this CEB statement means it is now the common position for the entire UN family of agencies. Crucially, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime – the lead UN agency on drug policy – has also endorsed the position; finally clarifying their previously ambiguous position on decriminalisation.

The statement also supports the development and implementation of policies that put people, health and human rights at the centre, by providing a scientific evidence-based, available, accessible and affordable recovery-oriented continuum of care based upon prevention, treatment and support.

It welcomes and significant step towards ‘system wide coherence’ within the UN system on drug policy. This has been a key call of civil society groups long frustrated by the lack of coherence across the UN and the marginalisation of health, rights and development agendas by UN drug agencies whose historic orientation has been towards punishment, law enforcement and eradication.

The statement is especially important as it comes in the run-up to a ministerial-level meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs this week, which will review the 10-year UN global drug strategy and agree plans for the next one. The utopian goal to achieve a drug free world by 2019 was obviously not realistic and possible with outdated strategies and approaches. It will be interesting to see if a new approach will be taken.

To read full report from the meeting, including the position statement on drug policy, follow this link>>>>

A calls for global drug policies that promote & protects the humanrights of women

Οn the occasion of International Women’s Day (ΙWD), celebrated on March 8 every year, the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD)  has published recommendations on the importance of promoting gender equality to achieve a balanced approach to the drug phenomenon and calls for global drug policies that promote & protects the humanrights of women. CSFD hopes that these recommendations “can be of use in informing the positions of the European Union at the Ministerial Segment and at the 62nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs”.

The Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) takes this opportunity to emphasize the need for global drug policies to pay special attention to women and the promotion and defence of their rights.

Civil sociaty forum on Drugs

They note that the theme for IWD in 2019 is ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’, focusing on: ‘innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure’.

Also they note that the provisional agenda for the Ministerial Segment includes a roundtable on ‘Taking stock of the implementation of all commitments made to jointly address and counter the world drug problem…’. These commitments include the Outcome Document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs – which includes a strong gender component as it relates to drug policy.

The UNGASS Outcome Document also highlights the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, noting that ‘efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to effectively address the world drug problem are complementary and mutually reinforcing’.

The achievement of SDG 5 on gender equality will necessitate that drug policies and programmes adopt a strong gender component to ensure that women are not left behind in efforts to control the illicit drug market.

Using the UNGASS Outcome Document structure, the CSFD wishes to offer specific recommendations which CSFD hope can be of use in informing the positions of the European Union at the Ministerial Segment and at the 62nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

To download this Recommendation follow this link>>>>

Greek Parliament set to vote on new bill establishing Supervised Drug Consumption Sites

A hearing meeting of the Standing Committee on Social Affairs of the Hellenic Parliament took place on 20 February 2019 to discuss draft law submitted by the Health Ministry. Among others, it includes various amendments of the Law 4139/2013 on drugs as well as a specific provision for the legal establishment of supervised drug consumption sites in Greece. The debate over the recent draft law is entitled “Private Clinics Statutory Framework, Modernization and Reformative recommendations, The National Public Health Organization establishment, the National Institute of Neoplasms and the other provisions establishment”.

Sofia GalinakiSofia Galinaki, Advocacy Officer of Diogenis and representative of the Greek organizations’ Platform for psychoactive substances, participated in the hearing, during which in cooperation with other Platform’s member organizations presented a series of proposals aiming to improve this legislative initiative.

Α relevant proposals’ memorandum was submitted on behalf of the Platform to the Committee and the Minister of Health, Mr A. Xanthos.

The second reading of the draft law by the Committee scheduled for 26 February 2019.

The current Law (in Greek) is available following this link>>>>

Glossary of terms translated into Serbian

Drug Policy Network South East Europe prepared the Serbian version of their Glossary of terms used in drug policy with the support of the Office for combating drugs of the Republic of Serbia.

The Glossary of terms was first published in English version and then in Spanish at the beginning of 2018.

This publication aims to contribute to better understanding the drug problem in more emphatic manner. Glossary is an alphabetical list of terms used in a domain of drug policy, with the definitions for those terms. It contains explanations of concepts and terms related to the field of drugs and relevant related matters.

The glossary should serve firstly to member organisations in a way that will help in process of harmonization of opinions and attitudes. This material will also serve a wider range of groups of people including policy makers, stakeholders, activists, the media, police, judiciary and others to understand drug problem and drug policy in a better way.

DPNSEE also plans to prepare versions in various local SEE languages. The Glossary will be updated from time to time. If you find difficulties in understanding some other terms used in drug policy, please don’t hesitate to contact DPNSEE and we shall be more than happy to find a definition and add it to the Glossary.

To download PDF version of the Glossary of terms on Serbian follow this link >>>