YODA Workshop for young activists in Europe

Last week (15 – 22 May) around 30 young people from 12 countries gathered in Belgrade for another round of workshops organised by Youth Organisations For Drug Action in Europe. This time the workshops, funded by European Youth Foundation and Open Society Initiatives, focused on “Promotion of social inclusion and protection of human rights among young drug users “.  Young people came from Serbia, UK, Belgium, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Macedonia and representative of the Council of Europe. 5 of them were representatives of DPNSEE member organisations Juventas, Re-Generation, Aksion Plus, HOPS and Margina.

The aim of the workshop was to analyse different aspects of human rights violations regarding young people and drugs through mentioned topics, so that official document can be drafted, addressing policy change in order to overcome different problems and prevent human rights violation in the future. Within 7-day long workshop participants were showcasing examples of human rights violations of young people protected under the European Convention on Human Rights and also compared the criminal penalties for drug offences in their countries, compared cases of young people receiving drug treatment and discussed access to drug treatment for young people who use drugs.

How to coordinate complexity?

Delegation of the Drug Policy Network South East Europe with Saša Mijović, Board member, and Milutin Milošević, Executive Director, visited Bosnia Herzegovina from 3 to 6 October 2016. It was fourth in the serial of visits aimed to present DPNSEE to the society, build strong relationships with the authorities, institutions and services and explore opportunities for partnerships.

Tuzla Canton was the first stop where the delegation visited Psychiatric Clinic of the University Clinical Centre. Dr Izudin Hasanović and Dr Adnan Kuldija informed us about how suboxone was introduced and is used now. Visit to the Therapeutic Community CROPS nearby Smoluća was the opportunity to get to know their methods of work.

Our member organisation from Banja Luka “Viktorija” prepared a very intense program of visits to authorities and institutions in the Republic of Srpska. A committed team of the Methadone centre and Psychiatric Clinic of Banja Luka Clinic Centre offered a warm welcome and a lot of information about their work, including experiences they gained during the training in Israel. In Tunjice prison, just outside Banja Luka, “Viktorija” is involved in activities supporting drug users. The main message from the meeting with the prison management was that post-penalty treatment is missing to prevent recidivism.


Meeting with the representatives of the Commission for the Prevention

of Drug Abuse of the Republic of Srpska

 The most interesting meeting was with the representatives of the Commission for the Prevention of Drug Abuse of the Republic of Srpska. The Committee works very efficient as a multi-sectorial team which not only meets, talks and decides but also organises activities and campaigns.

The day in Sarajevo was a good opportunity to meet with the new DPNSEE member organisation PROI. A friendly exchange generated some interesting ideas about the situation with drugs and emerging trends, especially in young population.


Friendly welcome in PROI


Meetings in the Ministry of Security and the Institute for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction in the Canton of Sarajevo provided valuable information about state respond to the issue of drugs. The Institute just recently moved to new premises which are ensuring good conditions for both customers and staff.

The Institute for the Prevention of addictions of the Zenica Doboj Canton may be taken as a role model of how work on supporting drug users (and other addicts) can be efficient and effective. They managed to both be an expert and comprehensive institution and to decentralise their work to cover large area and be available for those in need. They also support people in custody which was proved during the visit to the Zenica Prison.


Methadone centre in the Institute for the Prevention of addictions of the Zenica Doboj Canton


Welcome in Margina, the Network member organisation, ensured the delegation that their commitment is still strong and services are organised, even though the sustainability is jeopardised.

For the end of the visit, the delegation had a pleasure to participate in the meeting of the Country Coordinating Mechanism for Global Fund project. Some good news on additional funding and ideas for possible regional project were good result of this meeting.


 CCM meeting in Teslić

 The visit was really good opportunity to learn about a variety of issues related to drug policy in this complex and segmented country.


Good visit at the right time

Delegation of the Drug Policy Network South East Europe visited Serbia from 31 August to 2 September 2016. It was one of the visits in the region in an attempt to understand the situation and meet with a variety of stakeholders in drug policy in the country.

During the first day of the visit the delegation spent in the northern province of Vojvodina, meeting with the Secretary for Health and the Clinic for Addiction in the Clinical Centre of Vojvodina. Visit to Prevent, DPNSEE member organisation was both an opportunity to meet good friends and learn about their committed work, including shelter for sexual workers. The most interesting part of the whole visit was welcome in the Kovilj monastery and later their therapeutic community “The Land of Living” where we had the opportunity to hear true stories of people who fight with their addiction supported by their peers.

The expert view on the situation in Serbia was gained in meetings with doctors in the Special hospital „Drajzerova“ and Institute for public Health „Dr Milаn Јоvаnоvić Bаtut”. We explored opportunities for regional projects in the office of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. A good surprise was meeting with SUPRAM – Association of Lawyers for Medical and Health Law Serbia, with whom we discussed different way of legal protection of rights of drug users. DPNSEE representatives held the press conference in the EU Info Centre.

The key governmental structures dealing with the drug issue are Ministry of Health and newly established Office for combating drugs which is supposed to coordinate the whole system. The Office is open for ideas and contributions from the civil society organisations. Finally, meeting with the Serbian youth umbrella organisation generated good ideas for cooperation, also on the regional level.

The delegation was satisfied with the visit. The main result of the meetings with the officials was good presentation of the new regional organisation which was new for most of them and promises for future cooperation. It was a good moment for the visit, with governmental bodies just being established after the election and other existing institutions needing a new impetus for their work.

Some challenges were also identified, especially weakening of the NGO scene and lack of resources to implement the policies and strategies.

 Honest confessions of the addicts in the therapeutic community “The land of Living”

Featured image: Meeting with the Office for combating drugs