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.

Media coverage on cannabis regulation in Serbia

Statement of the Minister of Health Dr Zlatibor Lončar that Serbia will regulate cannabis in line with the decision of the UN Committee on Narcotic Drugs triggered a lot of attention in the country.

Our Executive Director Milutin Milošević was invited to comment speculations that legalisation of cannabis may benefit those accused in the famous case of production of marijuana in the organic food farm Jovanjica” at the Nova S TV station. The segment from their news is available (in Serbian) following this link>>>.

Milutin was then invited for a talk with Prof Dr Vladimir Kovčin at the cable channel K1 where most of the attention was given to medical benefit of marijuana and possibilities to regulate it in Serbia.

 

Cannabis – narcotic drug or/and medicine

As part of the Serbian Visions Multicongress, organised by the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (AHK) from 1 to 5 February 2021, DPNSEE will hosted an online discussion “Cannabis – narcotic drug or/and medicine” on Friday 5 February.

Despite a very unfavourable time (Friday evening), 18 participants from Serbia, Croatia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia joined. Most of them were from civil society organisations, but also we had those from the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of Serbia and the Institute for Public Health in Serbia.

List of speakers included:

  • Milutin Milošević, DPNSEE
  • Nebojša Đurasović, Prevent, Serbia
  • Vlatko Dekov, HOPS, North Macedonia
  • Tomaž Koren, konoplja.org, Slovenia

The discussion was led around three main topics: how to regulate cannabis, medical value of cannabis (in the light of the new decision of the UN Committee on Drugs and Narcotics) and the latest developments in the region. Participants actively contributed with their positions and questions.

Recording of the discussion is available at the Serbian Visions Youtube channel.

 

I think we did a good job

Talas – Serbia based media portal “about politics, economy and ideas” published an article about effects of the coronavirus on people who use drugs in Serbia. The article is based on information published by DPNSEE and interviews with Milutin Milošević, our Executive Director, and Irena Molnar, the Executive Director of our member organisation Re Generacija.

Milutin emphasized that the civil society organisations from the region have done a good job before and during the first period of the outbreak. The result is that we haven’t noticed any infection among users of our services.

Irena emphasized that people who are on treatment are in an additional risk because they have to travel, sometimes daily, to get the treatment or social care.

The article, in Serbia, is available here>>>

Visit to the Special Prison Hospital

Photo: Ministry of Justice of Serbia

DPNSEE Vice-President Nebojša Đurasović and Executive Director Milutin Milošević visited the Belgrade Special Prison Hospital for a meeting with the director Dr Dragoljub Paunović and Dr Olivera Matijašević.

The Special Prison Hospital houses and treats both convicts with illnesses and persons with an imposed mandatory measure of substance and alcohol abuse treatment. The hospital currently hosts 778 patients to whom a complete healthcare (except operations) and medicines are offered by 303 doctors and other staff. It is the only prison hospital supporting 28 prisons in the country.

Besides sharing about activities on both sides, we discussed opportunities for cooperation on a variety of issues including state of drug use and recovery, HIV and Hepatitis C, opioid substitution therapy, testing for blood borne diseases, support in the pre-release from prison process, training and information sharing with medical staff and prisoners, etc.

New issues for monitoring

Every year in autumn, The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) organises Reitox meeting – the European information network on drugs and drug addiction. The 8th Extended Reitox network meeting was held on 12 November in the EMCDDA premises in Lisbon, Portugal. It brought together representatives from circa 50 countries, including: the Heads of the 30 Reitox national focal points from the 28 EU Member States, Norway and Turkey; representatives from the 6 Western Balkan countries covered by the European Instrument for Pre-Accession Technical assistance project (IPA7) and representatives from 15 European Neighbouring Policy area countries.

This year’s meeting will be dedicated to the topic ‘New issues for monitoring’. The agenda included issues like Drug policy debates: how routine monitoring data used?, Introduction on new proposal of the UNODC Annual Reports Questionnaire (ARQ) and Cannabis: latest developments.

During the session on Prevention of infectious diseases, DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević presented Situation in the Western Balkan countries. Besides presenting the Network and briefly describing the type of data that are available to us, a detailed view on the situation in the Western Balkan countries was given including prevalence of HIV, HCV, HBV among people who inject drugs, provision of harm reduction services and access to treatment, barriers and challenges and relevant policies in the region.

Participation in the Reitox meeting was an excellent opportunity to present the potential of the Network for partnership and discuss modalities for further cooperation with EMCDDA and national drug agencies

Promotion of tolerance and equality

Combating intolerance and promotion of equality were the topics of the Conference held on 17 September 2019 in Belgrade by the Council of Europe with participants from the Government of Serbia, Parliaments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, France and Serbia, representatives of the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) as well as the representatives of equality bodies, civil society organisations, international organisations and a number of embassies in Serbia.

For the Government of Serbia, the process of EU integration remains a priority with an emphasis on the respect for human rights, rule of law and democracy. The Deputy Prime Minister Ms Zorana Mihajlović highlighted that increase of intolerance among young people and violence in schools needs to be addressed by the joint efforts of the Government, independent bodies and civil society organisations. The Head of Government Office for Human and Minority Rights, Ms Suzana Paunović, emphasised the importance of identifying and sharing good practices in addressing intolerance and promoting equality. In that context, the joint European Union and Council of Europe “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019 – 2022” was recognised as one of the instruments which should boost and facilitate the exchange of good practices among its Beneficiaries.

The Head of Council of Europe Office in Belgrade, Mr Tobias Flessenkemper, highlighted that bringing democratic and pluralist society and respecting equal dignity of all human beings remain the prime objectives for the European societies. Furthermore, he added that today’s gathering allowed to mark the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe as well as 25 years of ECRI as well as the multiple efforts by the Serbian civil society. He concluded by underlining that Europe’s future demands from individuals and groups will address not only tolerance but also the will to act together, combining their diverse contributions.

The Head of Delegation of the European Union to Serbia, H.E. Ambassador Sem Fabrizi highlighted that intolerance and discrimination are a common challenge. They are widespread not only in Serbia, but in many countries of the world. The situation can be improved and changed only with a strong political will of the authorities to react to any form of intolerance promptly and adequately. In that way, a powerful message would be sent to those denying rights of all people, that such behaviour is not acceptable and would not go unpunished. H.E. Ambassador Jean-Louis Falconi, Embassy of France in Serbia, highlighted that strengthening the rights of Europeans also means emphasising social rights and further linking them to the European Union law.

At her keynote speech, Vice-Chair of the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) Ms Maria Daniella Marouda concluded that in order to effectively combat intolerance and promote equality more must be done to project a positive image of a diverse society and to explain better the advantages stemming therefrom. Openness and tolerance in a society can only be genuine if they are not limited to certain predefined groups but embrace everyone. All persons must be protected against discrimination including those not belonging to national minorities or other vulnerable groups. A fairer society, where respect for difference is acknowledged as normal, is of benefit to all individuals.

The conference Combating Intolerance and Promoting Equality is jointly organised by the Council of Europe Anti-discrimination Department, the Council of Europe’s anti-racism body (the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance – ECRI) and in co-operation with the Serbian Government and the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality under the auspices of the French Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. It is held under the Action Promotion of diversity and equality in Serbia funded through the joint European Union and Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019 – 2022”.

At the Conference, DPNSEE Executive Director met and discussed with potential partners, especially Head of Council of Europe Office in Belgrade, representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy, Deputy Republic Public Prosecutor and colleagues from the civil society sector.

The French Ambassador to Serbia Jean-Louis Falconi invited all participants of the Conference for a reception in the Embassy. That was the opportunity for DPNSEE Vice-President Nebojša Đurasović and Executive Director Milutin Milošević to get introduced to the Ambassador and briefly present him the situation with drug policy and HIV in Serbia. Mr Falconi expressed interest in the issue and promised to keep contacts on the issue.

A conference on addiction prevention

Challenges and perspectives in the field of addiction prevention – the first expert conference about contemporary approaches and models of work with children and youth in Bosnia Herzegovina was held on 26 and 27 of June 2019 in Sarajevo. Association for addiction prevention NARKO-NE within the RIPPO network organised the conference with the support of the Ministry of civil affairs, Ministry of human rights and refugees and Ministry of security.

The conference aimed to focus on the importance of an inter-sectorial approach, to sensitize the general public to problems of addictive and risky behaviours and to contribute to the professionalization and multidisciplinary development of the respective field in Bosnia Herzegovina.

The main conclusion of the Conference is that a joint work, as the society, is needed to create a safe environment, but that there are too much organisations and institutions that work on the issues of prevention and that they are not equally distributed.

Besides plenary inputs and discussions, 18 workshops were offered to participants. Among them, the DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević run one on Models of addiction prevention on environmental (structural) level. During the workshop, DPNSEE and its member organisations activities on strategies and action plans development and improving legislation on drug policy in countries of South East Europe were presented.

More information about the Conference are available on the website konferencija.prevencija.ba – including all the presentations which will be posted by the end of July.

Milutin with Aleksandra and Milena from “Čovekoljublje”

Improving partnership with Čovekoljublje

DPNSEE Vice-President Nebojša Đurasović and Executive Director Milutin Milošević visited “Čovekoljublje” (Philanthropy), the charitable foundation of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Foundation performs emergency (humanitarian) and development programmes. Philanthropy’s basic principle is respect of human rights, reflected in providing assistance to all those in need, regardless of their race, gender, nationality or religious affiliation. It cooperates and is supported by number of institutions: ministries, province and municipal authorities, health care and social welfare institutions, institutes for protection of children and youth deprived of parental care, and series of civil society organisations.

In scope of it’s the Health care and social welfare programmes, Philanthropy initiated a programme providing expertise and voluntary psycho-social support for people living with HIV/AIDS – PLHIV in 2003 with the blessing of Patriarch Pavle. This programme’s main purpose is suppression of social isolation and discrimination of PLHIV, as well as development of voluntary work and public awareness on presence of HIV/AIDS within various social groups.

For some time already, DPNSEE and its member organisations from Serbia actively cooperate with Philanthropy. The visit was an opportunity to exchange about activities and plans with project coordinator Aleksandra Božinović Knežević and generate ides for future cooperation.