INCB mission to Kosovo

From 23 to 27 June 2019, The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) conducted a mission to Pristina, Kosovo to review the drug control situation there with a view of facilitating access to controlled substances while preventing their diversion.

INCB is an independent, quasi-judicial expert body established by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 for monitoring member states’ implementation of the UN drug control treaties. It has 13 members, each elected by the Economic and Social Council for a period of five years.

The mission was led by Ambassador (ret.) David Johnson, Member of the Board, supported by Mr. Nodirjon Ibragimov of the INCB secretariat. The mission was facilitated by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMiK).

The delegation met with the representatives of Kosovo agencies involved in pharmaceutical regulation; the administration of justice, including prosecutorial services and the judiciary; law-enforcement, customs and forensics; and public health, addiction treatment and rehabilitation.

The INCB delegation also met with leaders of the international community supporting local institutions, including the EU Office in Pristina, EULEX, the OSCE Mission, UNDP, UNODC, and UNMiK. In addition, meetings were held with officials from the NGO “Labyrinth”, a DPNSEE member organisation, which provides opioid substitution treatment and other elements of a comprehensive treatment and reintegration programme and with the leader of the NGO Community Development Fund, which supports “Labyrinth”.

INCB Board Member delegation meets Mr. Safet Blakaj, Executive Director, and other representatives of the NGO Labyrinth

A call for decriminalization of simple possession

The United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which oversees compliance with the three international drug control conventions, recently issued an alert regarding policies on drug-related offenses.

In the announcement, the Board advocates for the decriminalization of simple possession, underscoring that “There is no obligation stemming from the conventions to incarcerate drug users who commit minor offences.”

In many countries, writes the Board, the “policies to address drug-related criminality, including personal use, have continued to be rooted primarily in punitive criminal justice responses,” such as prosecution and incarceration. Meanwhile, “alternative measures such as treatment, rehabilitation and social integration remain underutilized.”

The INCB also points to the discretion that is at each country’s disposal, noting that though Member States “have an obligation under the drug control conventions to establish certain behaviours as punishable offences,” that responsibility is subject to their Constitutions. Furthermore, when it comes to “minor drug-related offences including possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use . . . the conventions do not oblige States to adopt punitive responses.”

You can read the full alert following this link>>>

Source: cannabiswire.com

UNODC launched toolkit on synthetic drugs

UNODC launched the United Nations Toolkit on Synthetic Drugs, a web-based platform with a wide range of electronic resources that offer innovative and practical tools on how to approach challenges related to synthetic drugs and particularly opioids.

The toolkit is part of UNODC’s Integrated Opioid Strategy that was launched last year to deal with the deadly opioid crisis. UNODC is the lead UN Secretariat entity in providing assistance to Member States in addressing the world drug problem and in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and other international and regional organizations is coordinating the development of this toolkit to support countries in addressing the threat of synthetic drugs.

The Toolkit offers a selection of different topics critical in addressing the key challenges presented by synthetic drugs. Generally, these topics range from legislative approaches, forensic capacity, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, and access to medicines to regulation, detection and interdiction. Currently, three modules are complete and accessible: Legal, Forensics and Precursors. The remaining modules are in development and will become available soon. Moreover, the toolkit will be frequently updated and complemented with additional resources.

The toolkit was formally presented by Justice Tettey, Chief of UNODC’s Laboratory and Scientific Section, at a side event during the 62nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), co-organized by the governments of Canada, Columbia and the United States of America.

Justice TetteyMr. Tettey, Chief of UNODC’s Laboratory and Scientific Section, underlined, “the toolkit has been developed in an interactive and user-friendly way for the benefit of Member States. You can have a toolkit in your pocket.”  The U.S. Head of Delegation to the CND’s 62nd Regular Session, Mr. James A. Walsh highlighted the fact that “as an online platform, the toolkit will serve as a self-assessment tool that allows countries to identify and address the specific synthetic drug challenges they are facing.”

Over the past 150 years, humanity has experienced several opioid crises, but none as devastating as the present one. Opioids remain one of the most important classes of medicines, providing essential pain relief and palliative care for many millions of people in need. But the deadly consequences of non-medical use pose some of the greatest drug challenges we face today.

The Toolkit is available following this link>>>

CND – half way through

The 62nd CND is running full steam on the third day. Besides plenary work with national delegations discussing and voting on formal decision, a variety of side events present interesting experiences, projects, results and challenges from around the globe.

Decriminalizing drug use and possession: A cross-national perspective on lessons learned and best practices

Organized by the Czech Republic, the Drug Policy Alliance, Release and the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy. Niamh Eastwood from Release (UK) reminded that UN agencies estimate that 83% of all drug offenses globally are related to possession and use of drugs. Tough sanctions don’t deter people from using drugs. Decriminalisation is not a new option – some countries use it since seventies of the last century. No country that recently decriminalised experiences increase in drug use! It is time to start exploring new models of decriminalisation. An argument against is that “we need to protect kids”, but the majority of those who are under criminal justice systems are young people up to 24 years of age. For young people, we should work on preventing long-term problematic drug use. Caitlin Hughes from the National Drugs and Alcohol Research Centre (Australia) presented results of several studies on decriminalisation. Barbara Janikova and Viktor Mravčik from the Czech National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addictions presented successes their country achieved adopting decriminalisation. After they criminalised drug use and possession in 1999, use of cannabis was growing; on contrary, when they decriminalised it in 2010, the cannabis use dropped significantly. There is a national consensus that there is benefit of decriminalisation for public health and general wellbeing. Same way, Dagflin Hessen Paust from the Norwegian Association for Safer Drug Policies (Norway) presented their change of approach, which included a large national debate. Finally, there is the proposal for decriminalisation in process now, evidence based and proposed by the ruling conservative party. Supply issue is the elephant in the room when discussing decriminalisation. Theshia Naidoo from the Drug Policy Alliance (USA) had a large discussion where the three main issues were: How to define the conduct that is decriminalised? Who are the optimal decision makers? Appropriate response to drug use and possession? Decriminalisation should be followed by large investment in social services to people who use drugs.  Blog notes from this side event are available following this link>>>.

Aligning data collection with UNGASS implementation and the Sustainable Development Goals: Recommendations for a review of the Annual Report Questionnaire

Organized by Canada, Mexico and Switzerland, IDPC, the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation from Canada and the Global Drug Policy Observatory of Swansea University. Mexico prepared a matrix of 106 recommendations related to the UNGASS outcomes. EMCDDA representative claims that it is a very complex job to get data. On one side, they are specific and complex and on the other side there is a specific political aspect attached to them. Marie Nougier from IDPC presented the information on data collecting they included in the report “Taking stock: A decade of drug policy – A civil society shadow report” and expressed the willingness of IDPC and many civil society organisations to contribute to updating the Questionnaire.

Women, incarceration and drug policy: Special vulnerabilities that call for focused responses

This side event gathered various representatives that agreed that women that are drug users face various obstacles and are much more vulnerable in prison settings and their human rights. Ms Ivana Radačić from OHCHR pointed out the fact that in general more women than men are serving drug use related sentences and that there are significant obstacles for them to be provided with fair trial. Project officer in Eurasian Harm Reduction Association Ms Eliza Kurčević presented the results of the research conducted by EHRA and said that “33,6% out of total number of prisoners in Russia are women, while 19.628 of them are sentenced for drug related offences. They face many challenges relate to human rights violations, family rights and other justice related problems.” These challenges remain one of the key priorities that should be addressed through both drugs and justice policies.

Launch of UNODC-VNGOC civil society guide on UNGASS outcome document and SDGs

Organized by the Sweden, UNODC, Civil Society Team and the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs. Jamie Bridge, Chairman of VNGOC, emphasised that more than 85% of the civil society organisations replied that they contributed to at least one SGD, while a quarter of them said they contributed to all 17 SGDs. HE Mikaela Ruth, the Ambassador of Sweden, presented the key features of the guide for NGOsWorking together: Drugs and the Sustainable Development Goals“. The UNODC representative Billy Batware underlined how the UNGASS outcome document and SDGs are connected and presented the structure and content of the guide. Dayana Vincent from Fourth Wave Foundation working in India, Wangari Kimemia from Médecins du monde France in Kenya and Heloisa Broggiato Mater from International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care about their workshops on Availability and Access to Opioid Medications in Latin American Countries presented their experiences in working on programmes related to sustainability development goals.

Other events

The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs held an Informal Dialogue with the UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov. NGOs had an opportunity to propose questions and 11 of them were selected for Mr Fedotov to reply to. Participants of the dialogue touch upon topics like prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, alternative development, healthcare, opioid crisis, prevalence of drug use, Listen first and Strong families programmes and research and analysing new trends. One of the questions was asked by Janko Belin, about if UNODC have programmes related to drugs and migrants.

Another Informal Dialogue was held with with the INCB President Viroj Sumyai. Blog notes from this dialogue are available following this link>>>.

DPNSEE sings the IDPC open letters regarding the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug offenders in the Philippines.

LONDON (2nd August 2016) – Civil society groups from across the globe, including prominent human rights NGOs, have called on UN drug control authorities to urge an immediate stop to the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug offenders in the Philippines. Since 10th May 2016, more than 700 people have been killed by police and vigilantes in the Philippines for being suspected of using or dealing drugs, as a direct result of recently-elected President Duterte’s campaign to eradicate crime within six months.

Until now, however, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) – the UN agencies responsible for global drug control – have failed to condemn the Philippines for these gross human rights violations committed in the name of drug control.

Over 300 non-governmental organisations, DPNSEE among them, yesterday sent an open letter to the UNODC Executive Director, Mr. Yury Fedotov, and the INCB President, Mr. Werner Sipp, asking them to take immediate action aimed at putting a stop to the extrajudicial killings.

“We are calling on the UN drug control bodies to publicly condemn these atrocities in the Philippines. This senseless killing cannot be justified as a drug control measure”, said Ann Fordham, Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Consortium. “Their silence is unacceptable, while people are being killed on the streets day after day”, she continued.

– The open letter asks the UNODC and the INCB to call on President Duterte to:Immediately end the incitements to kill people suspected of using or dealing drugs,
– Act to fulfil international human rights obligations, such as the rights to life, health, due process and a fair trial, as set out in the human rights treaties ratified by the Philippines,
– Promote evidence-based, voluntary treatment and harm reduction services for people who use drugs instead of compulsory rehabilitation in military camps, and
– Not to reinstate the death penalty for drug offences.

 

You can read the Open Letters

Open letter to Y.Fedotov

Open letter to W.Sipp