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.

Support. Don’t Punish Kick-off event

On the occasion of 26 June, the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the Global Day of Action of the Support Don’t Punish Campaign is organised in more than 150 cities in the world. The Drug Policy Network South East Europe for the second year coordinates activities of the campaign in South East Europe, where 10 of our member organizations are pushing actions in 9 countries and 11 cities. Activities that vary from the film screenings and street actions to public debates and dialogues with the different government bodies.

DPNSEE organised the “Kick-off event” to mark the start of the campaign in South East Europe. The event was held in the European Union Info Centre in Belgrade on 21 June. Executive director of the Network Milutin Milošević opened the event presenting the aims of the #SupportDontPunish campaign. He also briefly presented the current situation in the countries of South East Europe in the context of human rights and public health approach to drug policy.

Danilo Ćurčić, lawyer from the A11 – Economic and Social Rights Initiative addressed the need for actual space for civil society organizations and the lack of dialogue between the state and organizations addressing the issue. He specially emphasized adoption of laws through urgent procedures and without public hearings and poor implementation of laws that have been passed.

Dr Hajrija Mujović, vice president of the Association of Lawyers for Medical and Health Law of Serbia SUPRAM, presented the international and domestic laws and documents which are basis for fighting discrimination and safeguarding human right, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the Joint United Nations statement on ending discrimination in health care settings issued in 2017.

Milutin Milošević presented the baseline research on “Documenting Drug Related Cases of Discrimination”, an activity within the project “Strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations in South-East Europe and promote drug policy based on respect for human rights and public health”. The most frequent cases of discrimination in SEE are related to stigmatization in various respects, the relationship between the police and the judicial system (including the right to information in criminal proceedings), the protection of personal data, basic and specific health care, social protection, the right to education, employment and many other areas of life which should be available to every person.

Irena Molnar, in front of Youth Action Organization for Drug Action – YODA, presented the document, result of the 7 day workshop in Belgrade “Protecting the rights of young people in areas related to drug policy”. She also stressed that it is recognizable that there is a lot of policy action taken in “our name” (in the name of ‘protecting the youth’) but without input of young people or regard for our safety. Most policies which are related to young people and drugs are regressive and damaging and causing more harm, however, they continue to be enforced.

A short discussion followed highlighting the need to decriminalise drug use and possession.

International Symposium “Towards Changes”

On the occasion of 26 June – the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the Special Hospital for Substance Abuse in Belgrade, Serbia, organised the international Symposium “Towards Changes” on 16 and 17 June. Topics included changes of trends in drug use, organising a network of institutions that provide treatment to addicts, including private medical services and local communities and prospective of further development of clubs for cured alcoholics and gamblers. Besides local medical experts, guests came from Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, FYRO Macedonia and Montenegro. Keynote speaker was Mr Antti Jearventaus from Finland who presented his work on use of Internet in fighting drugs, prevention and addiction treatment.

Irena Molnar, representing her NGO ReGeneracija and the DPNSEE Office (the only one from the NGO sector), was invited to participate in the open table dialogue with representatives from the region and to speak about involvement and use of resources of local community and organizations of civil society in resolving drug addiction.

Irena met and established contacts with many participants from different countries. Most important were those with Serbian Director of the Office for combating drugs, the Focal point and Office for monitoring of Ministry of Health, referring to EMCDDA and Director of the Special hospital for addictions. She presented DPNSEE and announced visits that we shall pay to countries of the Western Balkans.