Support. Don’t Punish is a global grassroots-centred initiative in support of harm reduction and drug policies that prioritise public health and human rights. The campaign seeks to put harm reduction on the political agenda by strengthening the mobilisation capacity of affected communities and their allies, opening dialogue with policy makers, and raising awareness among the media and the public.
The Drug Policy Network South East Europe coordinates activities of the campaign in South East Europe around the Global Day of Action 26 June – which is also the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
In 2021, we shall participate in activities of the #DrugDecrim month to contribute to fighting stigmatisation and criminalisation of people that use drugs.
The campaign 2021 shall have in South East Europe:
25 accounts on social networks
Activities have already started in some of the countries of the region.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic which is still hitting the region and the world, DPNSEE will not organise the traditional kick-off event in 2021.
The DPNSEE Board decided to issue a public appeal on harm reduction crisis, following a very critical situation in which are harm reduction services in several countries of South East Europe.
Following a good result in coordination of the campaigns in 2017, 2018 and 2019, The International Drug Policy Consortium and The Drug Policy Network South East Europe agreed on continuing cooperation on organising the campaign in 2020.
The Support. Don’t Punish 2020 campaign was held in very difficult circumstances, but participating organisations managed to find a way to hold activities and continue contributing to achieving its goals.
The campaign in South East Europe had
For the first time, DPNSEE haven’t organised a Kick-off event to launch the campaign due to the situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, and as a specific way of promoting the campaign and achieving its goals, DPNSEE organised a regional campaign using social media to spread messages around. We prepared a set of up to 20 messages with combination of quotes from Kofi Annan’s speeches and appropriate photographs, ready for use in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The DPNSEE staff collected and published articles alongside with photos of the involved organisations in the Network during the campaign on Internet page www.dpnsee.org and social media Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
For the fourth year already, DPNSEE coordinates the Support. Don’t Punish global advocacy campaign calling for better drug policies that prioritise public health and human rights. The campaign aims to promote drug policy reform, and to change laws and policies which impede access to harm reduction interventions.
This year we organise a larger campaign, which will be part of our general efforts to ensure sustainability of services for people who use drugs in South East Europe – those that are under threat of being marginalised and side-lined as consequence of the coronavirus outbreak.
The DPNSEE Board decided to hold a regional campaign using social media to spread messages around. We prepared a set of up to 20 messages with combination of quotes from Kofi Annan‘s speeches and appropriate photographs, ready for use in Facebook, Tweeter and Instagram. They will be posted throughout June 2020, most frequently around 26 June, the Global Day of Action of the Support. Don’t Punish campaign and the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
We offered all our member organisations to share the messages through your networks. The messages will be translated in various languages and it will be simple to post and schedule their dissemination following dynamic we shall define. For the moment, 14 our organisations from 8 countries post and share the slides.
We warmly encourage all other organisations and individuals to share the messages and so contribute to the success of the campaign worldwide.
Our Albanian colleagues from the organisation Aksion Plus organised a sensitization campaign in the cities of Durres and Tirana in May and June 2019 as their contribution to the Support. Don’t Punish campaign.
On 9 May, a workshop was organized with the students of “5 October” High School. This workshop consisted in informing young people about drug use based on Aksion Plus’s many years of experience in providing services, awareness campaigns focusing on drug use as well as publishing of informative materials. Young students were also organized into work in groups in order to have everyone’s involvement and engagement. Additionally, a presentation by some of the school youth about their knowledge of the phenomenon of drug use was presented.
The focus of the meeting held on 16 May in the University of New York was the discussion with prospective professionals on issues that affect the reality of drug users, HIV / AIDS, giving special importance to prevention and damage reduction policies. These realities are already noticeably tangible in every part of society. Also discussed about the “Support, Don’t Punish” campaign.
This workshop in the High school “Charles Telford Erickson” held on 23 May consisted in informing students about drug use based on Aksion Plus’s many years of experience in providing services: Methadone Maintenance Therapy, Psychological Counselling, HIV Testing, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Hep B, Hep C and awareness campaigns. It was presented a video. Young students were also organized into work in groups in order to have everyone’s involvement and engagement.
This workshop in the High school “Gramoz Palushi”, including 4 representatives of Caritas Albania, was held on 14 June. A video was presented. Young students were also organized into work in groups in order to have everyone’s involvement and engagement. The goal was to involve all students in an interactive way. At the end of the workshop, some space was left for their questions, comments about what was discussed, and what suggestions they had about future workshops.
For the launch of the Global Day of Action, DPNSEE organised a “Kick-off event” to start the campaign in South East Europe. The event was held in the EU Info Centre in Belgrade, Kralja Milana 7, on 19 June 2019.
Besides journalists, representatives of colleague civil society organisations, UN agencies, Office for combating drugs and political parties were present.
Representatives of the Network presented the key findings from baseline research on “Documenting Drug Related Cases of Discrimination”. This small scale research aims on raising awareness on existing discrimination in different areas of everyday life, map the situation and make a base for the further advocacy actions in decreasing stigma and discrimination towards people who use drugs.
DPNSEE also presented the proposal for decriminalisation of drug use and possession made to the Working group on changes to the Criminal Law in Serbia. The proposal was submitted to the Working Group for amendments to the Criminal Law but unfortunately was not supported.
DPNSEE member organisation Prevent presented results of the regional project “Budget Advocacy Monitoring in South East Europe” in Serbia. That included analysis of the national budgets for 4 last years with a specific focus on health and harm reduction, execution of the budget and excises, and the Declaration for sustainable national response to HIV.
Re Generation presented the results of their research “How the closing of the needle exchange programs affected the access to harm reduction services in two cities – Belgrade and Budapest“.
Finally, DPNSEE representatives presented the activities in the region in scope of the Support. Don’t Punish campaign.
Association Prevent held action „Support. Don’t Punish“ for the third time in Novi Sad and for the first time in Kragujevac. In Novi Sad target group were students and in Kragujevac visitors of the music festival Arsenal fest. With these two actions few thousand people were reached directly.
Campaign started on 20 June when the media were informed about the action. Prevent also spread information through social networks and during campaign reached over 30 thousand people in this way.
Campaign continued with action in Kragujevac during music festival Arsenal fest in period from 22 to 24 June. Members of Prevent were there, talked to the visitors and photographed them with the slogan of the campaign.
On 26th June action was held in front of the student’s dormitory in Novi Sad. Photo booth (photo cabin for selfies) raised special attention of the visitors. They made a lot of photographs and in the same time they supported this campaign. Location was selected because young people are the key agents of change in society and that they could understand message the best.
Beside photo boot visitors of the action had a chance to talk with Prevent members and to read about the campaign from printed material.
Action in Novi Sad was visited by three the biggest TV stations (Radio and television of Vojvodina – public service, Novosadian television and Chanel 9) and two journalists from newspaper (Dnevnik and Magyar Szó). Information about the action was published on 12 internet portals. Few days after the activity, Chanel 9 organized 45 minutes long TV show dedicated to this issue. Guest in this show was president of the Association Prevent, Mr. Nebojša Đurasović.
In the period from June 22 to July 07, as part of the “Support Don’t Punish” campaign, Healthy Options Project Skopje – HOPS has implemented activities in Macedonia.
Along with the Sustainability Platform for HIV Awareness Programs, on 22 June 2017, HOPS held a press conference for the need of providing financial resources and continuation of HIV prevention and harm reduction programs in the Republic of Macedonia. Dr. Arben Tarawari, new Minister of Health, also attended to the press conference and stated that the Ministry will support the programs.
On June 16th 2017, a public call for the best journalistic article was published on the topic: „Sustainability and the need of harm reduction programs in the Republic of Macedonia”. Up to the deadline, 6 articles of journalism (5 texts and 1 video) were reported to the call. The articles evaluation committee has selected the two best articles, followed by a 300$ prize for the first place, and 200$ for second place. The winners are publicly announced on the HOPS website.
With „Save Lives“ logo, an online petition was published to support harm reduction and HIV prevention programs in Republic of Macedonia. So far, 659 persons have signed the on-line petition. Additionally, on June 27th 2017, a stand for collecting signatures for support a petition was set on the city square in Skopje. In total, 980 signatures are collected. The petition will be submitted to the Ministry of Health and the Government of the Republic of Macedonia.
The Romanian Harm Reduction Network has organized on the 26th of July 2017 a public event in the old town part of Bucharest, as part of the “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign. There were participants from the Anti-AIDS Romanian Association (ARAS), the Alliance to Fight Alcoholism and Addictions (ALIAT), the Parada Foundation and Totem Association, that distributed flyers and stickers with SDP logo, “The Decriminalisation saves lives!” message, with harm reduction and health centered messages for 7 hours. The Forbidden comics and condoms were distributed.
Organisers posted 3 roll-ups with information on drug use, health and decriminalisation needs. The Totem association was present with their drums, inviting people to sit down, join the singing and find out about the campaign. The street children trained at Parada Foundation joined with Totem in providing a joint circus/drums show.
For one more year, the global campaign “Support.Don’t Punish” has been successfully implemented in Greece. In 2017, 6 different civil society organizations – that constitute the Greek NGO Platform for Psychoactive Substances, an unofficial initiative for joint action among organizations working in the area of drug policy and psychoactive substances – joined forces and cooperated in order to effectively spread the message of the campaign, sensitize the public, raise awareness regarding the harms being caused by the criminalization of people who use drugs and promote the need for human rights and public health oriented drug policy and drug law reform.
The organizations that supported the implementation of the campaign were:
“CENTRE FOR LIFE” for the support of people living with HIV/AIDS [DPNSEE member]
“DIOGENIS”- Drug Policy Dialogue [IDPC partner member & DPNSEE partner member]
“PeNUPS”- Peer Network of Users of Psychoactive Substances
“POSITIVE VOICE”- Association of People living with HIV/AIDS [DPNSEE member]
“PROMETHEUS” – Hellenic Liver Patient Association [DPNSEE member]
For the achievement of the aforementioned goals, two main activities were implemented:
A press interview (June 27th, 12.00-14.00h, at Romantso, 3-5 Anaksagora Street, Omonia, Athens)
A street event (June 27th, 19.00h at SIN Athina, Athens)
Furthermore, before the 27th of June, representatives of these organizations took the initiative to spread the message of the campaign during several official events, that were organized by state authorities by asking officials, journalists, scientists, decision-makers and other high-ranking representatives of governmental organizations to take a photograph with the logo of “Support.Don’t Punish” (e.g. Mrs. Teta Papoutsopoulou-Diamantopoulou, the National Drug Coordinator; Mr. Evaggelos Kavetzopoulos, President of the Hellenic Organization against Drugs- OKANA; Mr. Nikolaos Manios, Chairman of the Parliament’s Committee on Social Affairs; Μr. Nikolaos Paraskevopoulos, MP and former Minister of Justice).
The press interview was given by representatives of PeNUPS (Peer Network of Users of Psychoactive Substances), Mr. Christos Anastasiou and Mr. John Kissas, promoting in that way peer involvement which is one of the basic principles of Harm Reduction.
The remaining organizations actively supported the needs for the preparation and successful implementation of this activity. It was the first time that people coming from the community of PWUD had the floor in a press interview, which attracted 30 participants and was coordinated by the journalist Mrs. Ioanna Sotirchou.
During the afternoon of the 27th of June, a street event also took place in the center of Athens. The goals of this activity were to make the campaign more visible, celebrate the message of “Support.Don’tPunish”, provide informational material and offer some services both to the general population and vulnerable groups (including PWUD) in the area.
Volunteers from the coordinating organizations actively contributed in the implementation. T-shirts, bags, stickers with the logo of “Support. Don’t Punish” and flyers with the basic principles of Harm Reduction were distributed. In addition, NGO Praksis offered free, anonymous and voluntary rapid testing for HIV, HBV and HCV with its mobile unit. Moreover, of outmost importance was the contribution of the initiative “STEPS” that helped in the preparation of food and beverages and offered music. This event gathered and united around a hundred people.
For the needs of campaign’s promotion a facebook page was created under the title: Support.Don’t Punish -Greece- where you can have access to more detailed information, videos and photographs. Facebook advert was used attract more people to the page, resulted in 300 likes within a week.
2 facebook events were also created for the promotion of the two activities:
As in previous years, Association Margina from Bosnia Herzegovina organized several activities within the campaign “Support. Don’t Punish”, this year on two locations: Tuzla and Zenica. During this year’s campaign, their goal was to focus on young people as target population through two aspects: scientific -through public debates at two universities in Tuzla and Zenica, as well as support for contemporary music events for young people – Sound of Nature Festival.
Activities had solid media coverage and the main goal was achieved. The messages were transferred and taken very seriously. Margina’s management was invited and held two meetings with the creators and decision-makers in these two regions, as well as the extraordinary hosting of the two most visited TV companies upon campaign completion. What they are most pleased with are the 50 new volunteers of the organization, with whom the coordinator has already begun preparations for new activities.
Chronologically the activities happened in this sequence:
25 June – Support to the Sound of Nature festival – 1300 participants, 800 leaflets and 4000 condoms distributed
26 June – The press release, with all details of the campaign, goals, history and data for Bosnia and Herzegovina on drug use, human rights violations and evidence base approach in creating a public health approach to drug users and their families
27 June – Public debate at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Zenica, with participation of 90 participants
30 June – A public debate at the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation, University of Tuzla, where a press conference was held, followed by a debate with students with a total of 60 participants
01 July – Margina President participated in the thematic show for half an hour
Generally, Margina is satisfied with these activities, especially with participation of the young ones, under the advice and support of the senior staff of our organization. They are especially pleased to have new members joining their volunteer team, which is preparing for the new activities and new challenges set by the organization.