On August 29, 2016 a delegation of Diogenis and DPNSEE spent a day in Kosovo (UNSCR 1244/99), meeting with the Civil Society organisations Labyrinth, Foundation together and the Centre for peace and tolerance. This report focusses on the meeting of the 30th of August.
On August 30 the delegation met with the deputy Minister of internal affairs Mr. Nehat Mustafa who is the co-ordinator of the drug policy and the responsible authorities for drug strategy and drug legislation in Kosovo.
The agenda of the meeting was agreed between Diogenis/DPNSEE and the ministry. The ministry was so kind to translate the agenda and the information about Diogenis and DPNSEE in the Albanian language. At the meeting participated 12 persons 6 from the authorities and 6 from the civil Society organisations Labyrinth, Foundation together, DPNSEE and Diogenis.
The deputy minister opened the meeting, welcomed everybody and thanked Diogenis and DPNSEE for the initiative to organise this meeting. His government supports such initiatives and is open to dialogue with Civil Society Organisations. His ministry is actively involving in consultations organisations working in the field of drugs and is open to suggestions from their side. In the rather small community of Kosovo, the communication lines are very short and there is mutual appreciation for the co-operation from the government as from the Civil Society Organisations.
Meeting at the ministry of internal affairs, Kosovo (UNSCR 1244/99) August 30, 2016
The deputy minister continued with a short overview of the developments in drug policy and drug legislation in Kosovo since 2007, when the law on Psychoactive Substances has come into force and the first Strategy on drugs 2009-2012 was adopted. Since then a new drug strategy for the period 2012-2017 is accepted and is valid until now. Harm reduction services are in Kosovo accepted and the government has good contacts with Labyrinth, one of the main providers of harm reduction services in the country. The co-ordination of the policy is the responsibility of the ministry on interior and there is good co-operation with the ministry of health, justice and all the other ministries responsible for specific parts of the policy. The ministry will prepare the new Drug Strategy for the period after 2017. The deputy minister was open to any suggestions from the civil society organizations, but stressed that the financial capabilities of the government should focus on work from which the people who really need it, will benefit
The director of Diogenis and President of DPNSEE thanked the deputy Minister for his willingness to accept the invitation and discuss extensively the agenda of this meeting with the representatives of Civil Society Organizations. Diogenis is active in the region of South East Europe since 2010. In this period Diogenis worked in an informal network with NGOs in the region. Besides that Diogenis developed a good co-operation with Law faculties of Universities in the different countries of the region and with research institutes in the project “Drug Law Reform in South East Europe”. Two publications have been published, one about “Drug Policy and Drug Legislation in SEE” and another about “Sentencing of Drug offenders: Legislator’s Policy and the Practice of the Courts in South East Europe”.
The director of Diogenis and president of DPNSEE hands over to the deputy minister of internal affairs, the two books on drug legislation in South East Europe
It is a contribution to the discussion about new developments in drug law, which is challenging several aspects of the current legislation. He pointed out that in several countries in the world new initiatives are introduced in drug legislation and that internationally a debate is taking place about adjustment or re-interpretation of the legislative framework of the current drug control system as it is laid down in the three international drug control conventions. Issues like the possession of small quantities of drug for personal use, the decriminalization of the user, the alternatives to imprisonment, the availability of controlled substances for medical purposes (pain relieve) are discussed and proposals are adopted and laid down in legislation. In the region of South East Europe a regional Drug policy conference is annually organized by Diogenis. Policy makers, scientists, practitioners, NGO representatives and most affected people by drug use are discussing developments, trends and new practices and exchange ideas about effective solutions. He expressed his wish to welcome in these meetings also representatives participating at this meeting.
The Drug policy Network South East Europe is a legal regional umbrella organization, based in Belgrade. 10 organizations from the countries in South East Europe have established DPNSEE. In the coming period the membership will grow. There are already several applicants who want to join the initiative. The aim of the umbrella organization is to strengthen the co-operation among the NGOs active in the field of drugs in South East Europe. To tighten the links with the state authorities, institutions and agencies responsible for the implementation of drug policy. To co-ordinate and encourage joint efforts on the regional level in order to advocate stronger for certain issues that have to be solved. To inform organizations and other actors in the field about drug developments in the European Union, the United Nations and other countries in the world. To offer possibilities for capacity building through trainings, study visits and exchange of best practices. DPNSEE has to stabilize its position and to secure the financial basis for the implementation of its activities. For the moment the European Commission is financially supporting this initiative.
The meeting concluded with reactions from the participants. The representative of the police pointed out that the police in Kosovo has a directorate community and the police. Their efforts are focussed on good relationships. Concerning drug users and the possession of small quantities for personal use, he pointed out that problems are limited to a small group of users and police is trying to cope with issue as flexible as possible and within the limitations of the existing legislation. The trafficking of drugs is a serious challenge that requires co-ordination with the neighbouring countries FYR Macedonia, Serbia, Albania. It is not an issue that can be faced by Kosovo alone. Efforts in this respect are supported by the government.
The participants welcomed the possibility to participate in Conferences organised by civil society Organizations. The authorities are open for discussion on new developments and the exchange of best practices.