The right to sit at the table

The Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) is an expert group to the European Commission. Its 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.

The Rights Reporter Foundation produced a new video on why is it important to involve civil society in drug policy decision making, featuring the members of the EU’s Civil Society Forum on Drugs by interviewing its members about the valuable contribution civil society is doing in the field of drug policies in Europe. The movie was produced with the support of the EC JUST Drug Policy Grant.

 

A New EU Drug Strategy is Being Prepared by the German Presidency

The 2021-25 EU Drugs Agenda recently published by the European Commission was criticised by civil society and member states. We have already posted comments from Péter Sárosi, the executive director of the Rights Reporter Foundation and an article about the sign-on letter of the International Drug Policy Consortium’s (IDPC) members, raising our very serious concerns regarding the new 2021-25 EU Agenda and Action Plan on Drugs.

The Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) also criticised the Agenda in its position paper for its stigmatising language and framework, lack of balanced approach, reduced role for harm reduction, decreased relevance of human rights and several other reasons.

Member States did not accept the new EU Drugs Agenda proposed by the EU Commission. The Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG) decided that a new EU strategy will be prepared by the German presidency.

To read more about the positions of the CSFD, follow this link>>> to the article on the Rights Reporter Foundation website.

 

Is the new EU Drugs Agenda a disappointment?

The European Commission has published draft of its new EU drug strategy (now called the Drugs Agenda), which is part of a wider Security Union strategy entitled “Delivering on a Security Union: initiatives to fight child sexual abuse, drugs and illegal firearms.”

Péter Sárosi, the executive director of the Rights Reporter Foundation, sees this document as “a disappointment for civil society organisations that have been advocating for a sensible, balanced approach in drug policies. He listed 4 reasons for this statement:

  1. War on Drugs language & framework
  2. Not reflecting some key evaluation findings – and the reality
  3. Lack of measurable indicators
  4. Limited civil society involvement

Read the full article at Drug Reporter following this link>>>.

How have closing of services affected drug users?

DPNSEE member organisation Re Generacija implemented the survey “Access to services of ex-users of the needle and syringe programme closed in Belgrade and Budapest” with the support of the Rights Reporter Foundation. Aim of the survey, implemented in 2018, was to analyse the consequences of closing the services and the effects that it has on risks and daily life of injecting drug users. Objectives included to reach out to the service users and learning about their current use of substances, mapping their access to services, sterile injecting equipment and analysing their perception of the closure of services and most important currently missing service. The conference was also an opportunity to discuss the current situation with recently established outreach programmes, as well as opioid substitution therapy and early warning system for new psychoactive substances.

The results of the survey were presented today at the conference organised together with the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of Republic of Serbia. The conference was held in the Palace of Serbia, with participants coming from both governmental and civil society sectors.

Two major groups of users were approached by the survey: drug users which were using the services for a long time and Roma people. A typical drug user both in Belgrade and Budapest is male, in mid-forties, with low education and income. In Budapest, users mainly use new psychoactive substances (synthetic cathinones), while in Belgrade they mainly use opioids (heroine). One of the main conclusion from the survey is that closing the services caused even more difficulties to reach out to drug users who are usually very suspicious.

To get more information and results of the survey, please contact Re Generacija following this link>>>>.