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>>>

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>>>>

The Barcelona Declaration

In February 2019, more than 40 womxn from Europe and Central Asia met in Barcelona to work together on intersectional feminism, drug policy, harm reduction and human rights. The result of the meeting is the Barcelona Declaration which “declares that the War On Drugs is a war on Womxn Who Use Drugs”.

DPNSEE member organisations have already signed the declaration including ARAS, Margina, NGO Re Generation.

On International Women’s Day 2019, DPNSEE added our Network’s name to the signatories,

To read and maybe support the Barcelona Declaration, follow this link>>>>

Global Prison Trends 2018

Penal Reform International published today the fourth edition of the Global Prison Trends 2018 at the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. The Report is prepared in collaboration with the Thailand Institute of Justice. It includes a foreword by the Rt Hon Helen Clark, Member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.

The Report explores Trends in the use of imprisonment, Prison populations, Developments and challenges in prison management, The role of technology in criminal justice and prison systems and The expansion of prison alternatives. A Special Focus section looks at the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders in the era of sustainable development.

The Report clearly states that harsh criminal justice responses to drugs are a major contributor to prison overcrowding, and the ‘war on drugs’ persists in some countries with disastrous consequences. According to available UN data, 83 per cent of drug offences recorded by law enforcement and criminal justice systems are possession offences. However, more promisingly, UN bodies and an increasing number of states are rejecting this approach. Reforms include the decriminalisation of cannabis and reducing sentences for minor offences.

Recommendation 8 of the Report, based on the Sustainable Development Goals 3, 5 and 16, proposes that “States should review their drug policies in order to adopt evidence-based policies that include decriminalisation of minor offences, proportionality of sentencing, and non-custodial alternatives to imprisonment. Treatment as an alternative to imprisonment must be voluntary and human-rights compliant. Metrics to measure the outcomes of drug policies should include their impact on human rights, health and development”.

Also, Recommendation 25 proposes that “States should develop and implement alternatives to imprisonment, including restorative justice processes. A focus should be on addressing root causes of crime, including poverty and inequality, to support efforts to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Non-custodial sanctions should replace the use of prison, rather than widening the net of criminal justice control”.

The section on Health indicated that the rates for HIV, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases among prisoners remain much higher than in the general community. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that people in prison are on average five times more likely to be living with HIV compared with adults outside prisons,263 although a higher estimate of 15 per cent is given by the World Health Organization. The Rapport recommends that “Drug prevention and treatment and HIV prevention, treatment and care should be available to people in prison at the same level is that provided in the community. Efforts to recruit sufficient healthcare staff in prisons should be doubled”.

To download the Report click on the photo of the front page>>>