Drug policy and drug legislation in South East Europe. Publication of the Diogenis Association
The Association Diogenis, issued a volume containing reports of ten countries of the South East European Region on drug policy and drug legislation. The volume was published by the publishing house "Legal Library" in Athens. The country reports are published separately on this website. The volume has been issued in the framework of the Project "Drug Law Reform in South East Europe"
The reports per country describe the current National Strategy on Drugs, the national substantive criminal law, the national drug laws and institutions, Drug law enforcement in practice, sentencing levels and the prison situation, initiatives for drug law reform undertaken by the government(s) and/or parliament(s) in recent years and proposals and recommendations for further research and advocacy work.
The Association Diogenis aims to promote policies based on respect for human rights, scientific evidence and best practices which would provide a framework for a more balanced approach and will result in a more effective policy and practice. A major concern of the activities is to encourage open debate on drug policy reform and raise public awareness regarding the current drug policies, their ineffectiveness and their adverse consequences for individuals and society.
The project "Drug Law Reform in South East Europe" and the other activities of the Diogenis Association are an effort to connect developments and initiatives in the SEE region with the European Unionʼs Drug Strategy and Action Plan as well as with global developments on Drug Policy.
After several decades of implementation of the current international drug control system, there is worldwide a sense of urgency to adjust the system, correct the aspects that cause adverse consequences and make it more effective. Open dialogue with the relevant authorities responsible for Drug Policy is essential in the search for more humane and effective Drug Policies and practice. The critical voices of civil society organisations such as the NGOs must be seen as a complementary contribution to the Drug Policy debate. Our cooperation with research institutes and universities is growing and there is mutual appreciation of our activities. The combination of the NGOs practical experience in the field and the scientific insights of researchers is a valuable contribution to the drug policy debate. It is up to the policy makers and governments to make use of proposals and recommendations and incorporate suggestions in Strategic choices and Legislation.
Informal Drug Policy Dialogue in South East Europe, Kalampaka 21 and 22 June 2013
The Regional Informal Drug Policy Dialogue in South East Europe organised by the Association Diogenis, has been held in Kalampaka, Greece from 20-23 June 20-23. At the dialogue participated 35 representatives of non-governmental organizations, academics, representatives from competent bodies responsible for the policy on drugs and professionals in the field of drugs, from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. At the dialogue participated also representatives of the "Correlation" European Harm Reduction Network, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and of the United Nations Regional Office of on Drugs and Crime in Tirana, Albania.
The Dialogue was funded by the European Commission and the Open Society Foundations, aiming at an open and wide-ranging exchange of views and experiences among participants and included five sessions on drug policy in South East Europe. The first session discussed developments in drug legislation of the countries of SE Europe. An overview of the new law on addictive substances recently adopted and entered into force in Greece was presented, followed by a presentation of the common general characteristics of drug policy and drug legislation in the countries of Europe, in view of the recent publication issued by Association Diogenis in the framework of the Drug Law Reform Project in SE Europe. The second session was devoted to the new European Strategy (2013-2020) and the new Action Plan for the period 2013-2016. The third session discussed the Action Plan on Drugs between the European Commission and the Western Balkans. In the fourth session, the discussion moved around services on Harm Reduction and the activities of NGOs in South East Europe. In the fifth session, the possibilities of NGOs to develop joint initiatives in the wider Balkan region have been examined The report on the Dialogue will be published soon.
The new Law on addictive substances passed by the Greek Parliament and has been published in the Government Gazette.
On March 12, 2013 the Greek parliament voted in favour of the Act on Addictive Substances and published it in the Government Gazette (No Sheet 74 of 20 March 2013). The same law entitled "Code on Drugs" was discussed in the standing parliamentary committee of the House beginning of 2012, but it was not submitted for voting in Parliament because of disagreements among the political parties that supported the then government.The new law has been modified by the new government in which the parties New Democracy, PASOK and Democratic left are participating.
In matters of principle there has been a fundamental change. This change maintains the criminalization of drug use as well as possession and commission of drugs for personal use by any means. The legislative committee appointed by the government to prepare the draft law had proposed the decriminalisation of use. But the political parties that support the government and especially the conservative liberal party of New Democracy -the largest party of the coalition government- took a very firm stance that if decriminalisation would be part of the law they would vote against the bill. The two other coalition parties (PASOK and Democratic Left) compromised and ultimately the law was passed. The main points of the reform of the Code of Laws on Drugs are:
Strict law enforcement on serious and organized forms of trafficking, but with careful separation of the lightest cases; distinction and classification of such crimes in order to avoid disproportionately severe or favourite sentences; facilitation of effective implementation of rehabilitation measures (physical and psychological) instead of imprisonment; maintenance of both criminalization of drug use and possession and by any means commission of drugs for personal use. The law systematizes regulations concerning authorities for planning, coordination and implementation of drug policy. More specific objectives are ..
The 9th meeting of Informal Drug Policy Dialogue took place in Warsaw on 15 and 16 of February 2013
The ninth meeting of the Informal Drug Policy Dialogue series, organised by the Transnational Institute (TNI) and Association Diogenis, took place in Warsaw, Poland, gathering over 35 NGO representatives, academics, policy makers and practitioners. The Dialogue comprised five major sessions on drug policy. During the first session, participants discussed the current state of drug policy in Poland. The Criminal Code in Poland has been revised in 2011 to allow for diversion mechanisms to be established in order to divert people who use drugs away from prison and into treatment. Although many issues remain regarding Polish drug policy, this reform is a positive development in the country. It is a substantial investment in the social (re) integration of drug dependent individuals and has also economic benefits, because imprisonment is more expensive compared to treatment programs.The second session focused on the new European Union (EU) Drug Strategy for 2013-2020 and its Action Plan for 2013-2016. During the third session , participants discussed cannabis policy reform movements worldwide, with a special focus on the legal regulation of cannabis markets in US states Colorado and Washington and the Uruguayan bill on cannabis policy. Discussions also covered cannabis policy and possibilities for reform in Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Poland. In the following session, participants shared their experience and expertise on different models of decriminalisation, with a specific focus on Poland, Italy and the Czech Republic. The final session of the Dialogue provided updates on the 56th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which was held from 11th to 15th March 2013 in Vienna, Austria.
American states, including the U.S., take the initiative to discuss drug policy change.
The Organisation of American States (OAS) published some days ago two important reports about the future of drug policy. It is the first time since 1961 when the UN member states adopted the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, that the Member States of the OAS, including the U.S., publish reports which address the negative impact of the current drug control system and suggest alternatives.
The reports are the answer to the decision taken by the Heads of States of the Americas at the meeting which was held in April 2012 at the sixth summit in Cartagena, Colombia, chaired by Colombian President Santos. The Summit mandated the Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) the preparation of a discussion between the countries of the hemisphere on the results and the alarming effects of current drugs policy and the exploration of new approaches for an effective response to the drugs problem. Many heads of state of Latin America had raised concerns about the negative impact of the current policy, the ongoing violence in their countries, with many victims, corruption and the prevalence of organized crime. Factors that are inhibitory to the development of their countries, contributing to instability, fuelling corruption and adversely affect the welfare of their citizens
Under the leadership of Secretary General of the OAS Jose Miguel Insulza, working groups examined the effects, weaknesses and challenges of policies on drug control in the region. The two interrelated reports contain an analysis of current trends, practices and policies, and a description of alternative scenarios that could be followed in the future referring to the pros and cons of each scenario as well as the expected results.
The next General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) wiil be held in Antigua, Guatemala from 4 - 6 June 2013. Drug policy will be the main topic on the agenda. The results of this meeting will be crucial for the further discussion on reform of the current drug control system. The next major event will be the United Nations Special General Assembly on drugs which will be convened in 2016, where the UN Member States will reassess whether, to what extent and to which direction the current drug control regime will have to change.
Support don't Punish
The International Alliance of HIV / AIDS, the International Network of People who use Drugs(INPUD) , The International Harm Reduction and the International Drug Policy Consortium started the International Campaign to raise awareness of the harms that are being caused by the criminalisation of people who use drugs. The campaign is part of the “Community Action on Harm Reduction” (CAHR) project.The campaign has various different aspects – including:
- An independent campaign brand
- A dedicated microsite – www.supportdontpunish.org
- A sign-on facility for people to show their support via the campaign website – through email, Facebook and Twitter
- A Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-Dont-Punish/135052193345584?fref=ts)
- An interactive photo project, whereby people can download the campaign poster and submit a photo of themselves supporting the campaign, which will be featured on the website: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.135092913341512.1073741826.135052193345584&type=1
- A series of advocacy videos by a wide range of partners linked to the campaign theme: see, for example, http://www.youthrise.org/support-dont-punish
- A series of well-designed, high-impact “info-graphics” for use on social media etc; and
- An international ‘day of action’ on June 26th
The Association Diogenis supports the campaign and calls on organisations and individuals from the South East European Region to sign.
The Newsletter nr. 5 of the Drugpolicy Network in South East Europe
The newsletter nr. 5 reports this time from Greece and Slovenia.
The items are for Greece:
-The Law on addictive substances has been adopted
-Proposal on Supervised Consumptions Rooms in the city of Athens -expert seminar on developments and trends in Drug
Legislation in South East Europe
-The HIV threat remains a serious problem. Protest
Against Interventions of the ministry of public order
The item for Slovenia:
-Slovenian co-morbidity conference, treatment of people with psychological disorders and addiction (with dual diagnosis)