Drug Law: the need to inform law enforcement authorities

On Wednesday 23th, KETHEA (Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals), the largest rehabilitation and social reintegration network in Greece, published a press release regarding the case of one of its members, who got imprisoned for offences committed 10 years before, during the period of his drug dependence. While, at the phase of social reintegration, the member had successfully overcome his addiction and has started to work. Despite that fact, the court rejected his request for a trial in accordance with the latest law on drugs 4139/2013.  Moreover, he has been placed in a prison, at Chios island, where there is no counseling services or rehabilitation program, regardless of the request to be transferred at the prison of Korydalos, where relevant services are available.

Once again we see the importance of proper information and training of judges in addressing issues concerning former or current users of psychoactive substances. As highlighted by Mr. Zacharis, prosecutor, at a previous event organized by organization DIOGENIS on the occasion of the presentation of our latest publication entitled: “Sentencing of Drug Offenders: Legislators’ Policy and the Practice of the Courts in South Eastern Europe, 2016”*, the human factor should be decisive in court’s final decision. The need for proper, up to date and accurate information and training of all judicial officers on the latest legislative framework and the new approaches at international level that put people at the heart of the law and its implementation away from stigma and discrimination, is therefore of outmost importance.

Civil Society in Greece, has underlined the issue several times. As mentioned in a recent letter addressed from the “Greek Platform of NGOs for Psychoactive Substances” (including Diogenis and 5 other civil society organizations) to the former Minister of Justice, Mr. Paraskevopoulos: “Both in European and international level, drug policy is changing its orientation from repressive approaches to human rights- and public health- oriented approaches”. Also, despite the favorable arrangements brought up by the law 4139/2013, similar examples, illustrate the need of clarification for some certain points in order to fill the gaps which provide a field of misinterpretation by the police and the judiciary.

*The publication edited by Mr. Thanasis Apostolou (Director of ‘Diogenes’) and published by “Sakkoulas Publications”, contains the findings of the research that has been initiated by Diogenis and has been done by researches affiliated with research institutes and law faculties of Universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.