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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.
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
Planning the future
The third Board Meeting of Drug Policy Network South East Europe dedicated to strategic planning took place in the Scout Centre Daljan in Ohrid, FYROM from 24 to 26 of August 2016. A specific introduction to the Board meeting was the meeting of the partners of the project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public health and human rights oriented drug policy in South East Europe”. The partners reported on actions in 2016 and planned future activities of the project, including actions to be taken late this year and possible actions to include in the project plan for 2017.
Discussing Network membership, the Board Meeting proposed for the membership:
· 6 organisations to become the ordinary members of DPNSEE: Aksion Plus, Albania; Cazas, Montenegro; Center for Life, Greece; Juventas, Montenegro; Proi, Bosnia and Hercegovina; and Re Generation, Serbia
· 2 organisations to become the associated members of DPNSEE: ARAS, Romania and Prometheus, Greece.
The letter of proposals will be forwarded to the General Assembly of the Network and the electronic assembly will be organised for the voting on proposed memberships. The Staff presented numerous calls for project proposals where the Network and member organisations can apply. Successful proposals would help build capacity and ensure sustainability of the Network. The Board also made an extensive list of possible source of funds to collect co-funding for the European Union project in 2016. The purpose of the strategic planning exercise was to determine the basis for the strategy of the Network, based on the Vision and Mission of the DPNSEE. It was a systematic process of envisioning a desired future, and translating this vision into defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them.
The strategic priorities proposed for the period 2017 – 2020 are:
1. Sustainability of the services – including but not limited to financing the programs, harm reduction, treatment, etc.
2. Policy development – including advocacy, strengthening civil society, establishing partnership and promotion dialogue, undertaking researches to ensure evidence based approach, etc.
3. Strengthening the Network – the Board, Office, Expert committee, but focusing on the Member organizations, including enlargement, capacity building, establishing a resource centre, etc.
The Action plan to implement the Strategy should be built on the needs recognised by the member organisations and situation in the drug policy field in South East Europe.
The board agreed that the 4th Board meeting and the General assembly will be held in Belgrade, Serbia from 28 to 30 November 2016.
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
Representatives of the Drug policy network South East Europe visited Montenegro from 28 June to 1 July 2016. The delegation included Denis Dedajić, member of the Board, Milutin Milošević, Executive Director and representatives of two local member organisations Tijana Žegura from Juventas and Saša Mijović from NGO 4 Life.
Purpose of the visit was to present DPNSEE to the Montenegrin society and build strong relationships with the authorities, institutions and services. Aims included establishing contacts and exploring possibilities for cooperation with authorities and various institutions, understanding Montenegrin model of functioning of structures for participation of civil society in decision making and identifying models for improvement, supporting member organisations in their work and contacts with authorities, institutions and services, issue of supporting (young) people on festivals and in clubbing and meetings with NGOs, especially potential new members of the Network.
The delegation held a large number of meetings including authorities and institutions: Minister for Labour and Social Wellfare, National Committee for Drugs, Public Health Institute, Sektor za suzbijanje krijumčarenja droga u Upravi policije (drug abuse prevention department in the Ministry of interior), KPZ Spuž (largest state prison), Special psychiatric hospital Dobrota, Metadonski program održavanja opijatskih zavisnika (methadone centre), Terapijska zajednica Kakaricka gora (therapeutic community), Kamp raseljenih lica sa Kosova na Koniku (Kosovo refugees centre). Besides our member organisations, good and constructive meetings were held with NGOs including Cazas, Preporod and Narcotics Anonymous.
The most positive impression from the visit is that most of the authorities and institution value very high the work of the NGOs and underline that they are the ones who have a direct contact with drug users which is an excellent channel for accessing them. The most challenging is that many actors in the field of drugs are working hard but that there is no efficient system that should coordinate their efforts in an effective way.
Featured Photo: Meeting with Mr. Boris Marić, Minister for Labour and Social Wellfare
The new, fresh and redesigned 5th edition of the DPNSEE Newsletter is available online!
Follow the link below and enjoy the activities of the DPNSEE members for the first trimester of 2016.
Download or read Newsletter#5_ENG
– UNGASS Regional Consultation Meeting Eastern Europe and Central Asia
– “Drug Strategy and Drug legislation”: Meeting in Serbia and Albania
– Re-interpreting the Conventions on Drugs
– Research on Harm Reduction in SEE
– News from the organizations of the Network
Download or read Newsletter#4_ENG