Is every seventh young person in Serbia involved in drug trafficking?

Our Executive Director Milutin Milošević was guest at the morning programme of the K1 TV together with Director of the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of Serbia Milan Pekić and psychologist Ms Vesna Tomić.

The trigger for the talk was result of a survey presented recently which shows that 17,7% of secondary school pupils use drugs while 14,1% of them is involved in drug trafficking.

The guests estimated that the target of the survey were sport fans, which are deeply involved in drug trafficking, and that resulted in so high number. Still they agreed that situation is not good.

Milutin presented official data collected by the Institute for Public Heath using the ESPAD methodology which are significantly lower. He also emphasised the need for multi-stakeholder, systematic, long-term approach to the issue of drugs.

The recording of the talk is available in Serbian.

COVID Technical Assistance Directory

Known as C19RM, the COVID-19 Response Mechanism supports countries to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on programs to fight HIV, TB and malaria, and initiates urgent improvements in health and community systems.

All countries, including regional/multi-country recipients, that are currently receiving funding from the Global Fund, are eligible to receive C19RM funding.

More about the COVID-19 Response Mechanism is available following this link>>>.

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), being the host of the EECA Regional Platform for Communication and Coordination supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund), has collected information concerning the availability of HIV, TB and COVID-related technical support (TS) for non-governmental (NGOs) an community-based (CBOs) organizations in the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).

Information presented in this document was provided, and confirmed, by the organizations included and collected between February and April 2021.

To read this technical assistance directory, follow this link>>>.

 

Monitoring Report 2020 Executive Summary

A civil society-led monitoring of harm reduction can play an essential role in improving service delivery and contribute to the generation of crucial data for advocacy purposes. Civil society organisations (CSO’s) work directly for, and with, people who use drugs (PWUD) and have a good understanding of their daily needs. Their inside knowledge is critical in developing adequate drug policies and practices.

To complement the work of other monitoring agencies, and to bring insight into how the implementation of harm reduction occurs, Correlation -European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) has published a report on Civil Society Monitoring of Harm Reduction in Europe since 2019. It gathers data on the experiences of harm reduction service providers and service users at ground level, building on a network of national Focal Points (FPs) in Europe. For the 2020 monitoring, C-EHRN includes 35 FPs in 34 countries, as shown in the map below. To get insight at the implementation level, and to profit from the experiences and expertise of FPs, the 2020 monitoring focuses mostly on cities rather than countries.

To read the Executive Summary, available also in several languages, follow this link>>>.

 

DPNSEE invited to Civil Society Forum on Drugs

The Drug Policy Network Youth East Europe was today formally informed that we have been selected as a member of the European Commission Expert Group – Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) 2021-2023.

In February, the European Commission had opened the Call for applications for members of its expert group to completely renew membership for 2021-2023 mandate. We have applied as the network that gathers civil society organisations from all 11 countries of this region of Europe.

The Forum membership comprises 45 civil society organisations coming from across Europe and representing a variety of fields of drug policy, and a variety of stances within those fields.  Its purpose is to provide a broad platform for a structured dialogue between the Commission and the European civil society which supports drug policy formulation and implementation through practical advice.

We fell that this is a great acknowledgement of the work we did in the last 5 years and a promising opportunity to represent the region in this important EU body.

 

Cannabis Quick Tests and synthetic cannabinoids

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network has published a factsheet on “Cannabis Quick Tests and synthetic cannabinoids“.

This factsheet aims to provide information to reduce the risk of unintentionally consuming synthetic cannabinoids by users of illegal cannabis containing Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) where they are unable to take advantage of drug checking services; if available, so-called Cannabidiol (CBD) Quick Tests can be used. Since the beginning of 2020, legal CBD cannabis has increasingly been mixed with synthetic cannabinoids and sold as illegal THC cannabis in Switzerland.

You can read the factsheet, available also in French and Italian, as well as many other factsheets Correlation produced, following this link>>>.

 

Survey on diagnostics for self-testing in Europe

The European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG) has launched a survey to map out the pricing and availability of self-test kits for HIV and HCV in the WHO European region.

The aim of this survey is to address the lack of knowledge/awareness of the current pricing and availability of self-test kits for HIV and HCV in the WHO European region. In addition, data collected through this survey will be reported on and disseminated to community members in the autumn of 2021.

The results will also be used to inform key informant interviews in the autumn 2021 to further investigate regulatory, policy context and practical challenges and solutions from a community perspective.

EATG is a patient-led NGO that advocates for the rights and interests of people living with or affected by HIV/ AIDS and related co-infections within the WHO Europe region.

The survey data collection will close on 10 September 2021.

The survey is available following this link>>>.

Arbitrary detention and drug policies

A virtual parallel event to the 47th session of the Human Rights Council took place on Friday 2 July, 13:30 CET, under the title: ‘Strengthening the role of the UN human rights system in drug policies: The case of arbitrary detention’.

The aim of this event was to present the important new study on arbitrary detention and drug policies by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and to discuss its implementation, as well as how to strengthen the role of the UN human rights system in drug policies

The Human Rights Council, in its resolution 42/22, requested “the Working Group to prepare, as suggested by the Working Group in its report submitted to the Human Rights Council at its thirtieth session, in close consultation with Member States, civil society, relevant international and regional organizations, United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, particularly the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in full respect of the mandates of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and of the Working Group, and with the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a study on arbitrary detention relating to drug policies to ensure that upholding the prohibition thereon is included as part of an effective criminal justice response to drug-related crimes, in accordance with international law, and that such a response also encompasses legal guarantees and due process safeguards, in accordance with the recommendation on this issue contained in the outcome document adopted by the General Assembly on 19 April 2016 at its special session, and to submit a report thereon to the Council at its forty-seventh session, and to bring the report to the attention of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs as the policymaking body of the United Nations with prime responsibility for drug-control matters“.

Following a public call for input, submissions were received by 15 June 2020 and are available in the Study.

In it, the Working Group examines how drug policies may result in human rights violations relating to arbitrary detention and makes recommendations. It draws on the Working Group’s own jurisprudence, positions taken by other human rights mechanisms and United Nations entities and contributions submitted by States and other stakeholders.

To read the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Study on arbitrary detention relating to drug policies, follow this link>>>.

 

Second European Symposium on Drug consumption Rooms

Drug consumption rooms – special facilities that provide safe and hygienic environments for supervised drug use, protecting users from risk – are a useful element in increasing public health and safety and promoting safer drug use patterns, an expert symposium heard today.

Organised by the Council of Europe’s anti-drug Pompidou Group as part of its 50th anniversary programme and bringing together around 300 participants from 15 European countries, the symposium assessed existing support for drug consumption rooms with a view to developing similar risk-reduction mechanisms throughout Europe.

In his opening speech Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge stressed how the system put human rights at the core of drug policy. “These rooms put people first. But reaching and helping highly marginalized groups also depends upon experience and the myriad of complicating factors that exist on the ground,” he said.

Mr Berge also stressed that “The concept of human rights rests on the idea that every individual matters equally, that those rights are inalienable, and that there exists an obligation to uphold them. It seems to me that supervised drug-consumption rooms are designed to put that theory into practice”.

The Symposium gathered experts, European authorities, ministers from France and Ireland, national drug coordinators, mayors of dozens of cities which presented positive results of the DCRs they host (Brussels, Copenhagen, Strasbourg, Paris, Lille, Marseille, Liege, Lyon, Nantes, Montpellier…) and representatives from the community and civil society organisations from around Europe.

Speaking as the Project Manager at Positive Voice at the Workshop on opportunities and challenges of opening a DCR from the community and professionals’ perspective, the DPNSEE Board member Marios Atzemis said that “Every overdose death is a policy failure. Every overdose death is preventable. ” He also shared that “There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel in #Greece through the collaboration between the community of people who use drugs and Greek Government”.

At the closing of the Symposium, the participants discuss creating a European support network for Drug Consumption Rooms that would extend good practices and sustain the achieved results.

 

UNODC World Drug Report 2021

From the UNODC press release

Around 275 million people used drugs worldwide in the last year, while over 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders, according to the 2021 World Drug Report, released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The Report further noted that in the last 24 years cannabis potency had increased by as much as four times in parts of the world, even as the percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by as much as 40 per cent, despite evidence that cannabis use is associated with a variety of health and other harms, especially among regular long-term users.

The theme of this year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is “Share facts on drugs. Save lives”, emphasizing the importance of strengthening the evidence base and raising public awareness, so that the international community, governments, civil society, families and youth can make informed decisions, better target efforts to prevent and treat drug use, and tackle world drug challenges.

According to the Report, the percentage of Δ9-THC – the main psychoactive component in cannabis – has risen from around six per cent to more than 11 per cent in Europe between 2002-2019, and around four per cent to 16 per cent in the United States between 1995-2019, while the percentage of adolescents that perceived cannabis as harmful declined by 40 per cent in the United States and by 25 per cent in Europe.

Moreover, most countries have reported a rise in the use of cannabis during the pandemic. In surveys of health professionals across 77 countries, 42 per cent asserted that cannabis use had increased. A rise in the non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs has also been observed in the same period.

Drug Use Rising, but Science-Based Treatment More Available

Between 2010-2019 the number of people using drugs increased by 22 per cent, owing in part to global population growth. Based on demographic changes alone, current projections suggest an 11 per cent rise in the number of people who use drugs globally by 2030 — and a marked increase of 40 per cent in Africa, due to its rapidly growing and young population.

According to the latest global estimates, about 5.5 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 64 years have used drugs at least once in the past year, while 36.3 million people, or 13 per cent of the total number of persons who use drugs, suffer from drug use disorders.

Globally, over 11 million people are estimated to inject drugs, half of whom are living with Hepatitis C. Opioids continue to account for the largest burden of disease attributed to drug use.

The two pharmaceutical opioids most commonly used to treat people with opioid use disorders, methadone and buprenorphine, have become increasingly accessible over the past two decades. The amount available for medical use has increased six-fold since 1999, from 557 million daily doses to 3,317 million by 2019, indicating that science-based pharmacological treatment is more available now than in the past.

The Dark Web

Drug markets on the dark web only emerged a decade ago but major ones are now worth at least US$ 315 million in annual sales. Although this is just a fraction of overall drug sales, the trend is upwards with a fourfold increase between 2011 to mid-2017 and mid-2017 to 2020.

Rapid technological innovation, combined with the agility and adaptability of those using new platforms to sell drugs and other substances, is likely to usher in a globalized market where all drugs are more available and accessible everywhere. This, in turn, could trigger accelerated changes in patterns of drug use and entail public health implications, according to the Report.

The Drug Market Rebounds and Shifts

The new report shows that drug markets have swiftly resumed operations after the initial disruption at the onset of the pandemic; a burst that has triggered or accelerated certain pre-existing trafficking dynamics across the global drug market. Among these are: increasingly larger shipments of illicit drugs, a rise in the frequency of overland and water-way routes used for trafficking, greater use of private planes for the purpose of drug trafficking, and an upsurge in the use of contactless methods to deliver drugs to end-consumers.

The resilience of drug markets during the pandemic has demonstrated once again traffickers’ ability to adapt quickly to changed environments and circumstances.

The Report also noted that cocaine supply chains to Europe are diversifying, pushing prices down and quality up and thereby threatening Europe with a further expansion of the cocaine market. This is likely to widen the potential harm caused by the drug in the region.

The number of new psychoactive substances (NPS) emerging on the global market fell from 163 in 2013 to 71 in 2019. This reflects trends in North America, Europe and Asia. The findings suggest national and international control systems have succeeded in limiting the spread of NPS in high income countries, where NPS first emerged a decade ago.

Drug Risks, New Developments Spurred by Pandemic

COVID-19 has triggered innovation and adaptation in drug prevention and treatment services through more flexible models of service delivery. Many countries have introduced or expanded telemedicine services due to the pandemic, which for drug users means that healthcare workers can now offer counselling or initial assessments over the telephone and use electronic systems to prescribe controlled substances.

While the impact of COVID-19 on drug challenges is not yet fully known, the analysis suggests that the pandemic has brought increasing economic hardship that is likely to make illicit drug cultivation more appealing to fragile rural communities. The social impact of the pandemic – driving a rise in inequality, poverty, and mental health conditions particularly among already vulnerable populations – represent factors that could push more people into drug use.

The World Drug Report and further content is available following this link>>>.

 

DPNSEE appeal to the governments in countries of the region

On the occasion of 26th June, the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, as part of the Support Don’t Punish campaign’s ‘Global Day of Action’, the Drug Policy Network South East Europe and its member organisations appeal to the governments in countries of the region to ensure that people who use drugs are safe from discrimination and enjoy care which is needed.

It is time to leave behind harmful politics, ideology and prejudice and to prioritise health and human rights over incarceration and futile efforts to achieve a ‘drug-free world. It is time to support, and not punish people who use drugs and other non-violent drug offenders.

To read the Appeal, follow this link>>>.