EHRA is looking for a consultant to prepare the review of Harm Reduction programs in EECA region

Eurasian Harm Reduction Assosiation (EHRA) is looking for a consultant to prepare the review of the state of Harm Reduction programs and related issues in Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region. The review should be written in English.

The potantial candidate should: 

  1. Review and comment the provided table compiling national data on injecting drug use, HIV and viral hepatitis and availability of key harm reduction interventions in 29 countries of EECA region;
  2. Provide in-depth and thoroughly researched feedback on a survey (will be provided) on developments in harm reduction policy, funding and practice in 29 countries of the EECA region since 2016;
  3. Identify two key issues/topics most relevant to harm reduction development in the EECA region/particular country and provide 500-700 word highlights on this topic for inclusion in the regional chapter of the report;
  4. Respond to queries from EHRA on submitted deliverables and review the draft regional chapter of the State of Harm Reduction 2018 report.

Each argument in the text should be supported by an example and a link to the source. Soft copies of key literature should be shared with EHRA via a dropbox folder. In case of using quotes from individuals, the consultant must have a signed informed consent from each interviewee.

In order to produce the deliverables above, the consultant should review recently published literature (including academic journal articles and grey literature such as UN and civil society reports) and consult with national experts and key stakeholders at the regional level (including networks of people who use drugs).

EHRA will support the consultant by providing available grey literature published by SCOs and facilitating the contacts between the Consultant and national and regional harm reduction experts / networks of people who use drugs.

Timeline

All tasks should be completed by the 11th of May, 2018:

  • The reviewed table and the completed survey response should be submitted by 1stMay 2018 Vilnius time.
  • 500-700 word highlights on two issues/topics for inclusion in the regional chapter of the GSHR2018 report should be submitted by 11thMay 2018 Vilnius time.

Payment

Proposed price for the provided survices could not exceed 1700 euro.

Evaluation criteria:

  • Relevant experinence (50 points)
  • Quality of the CV (20 points)
  • Relevant degree (20 points)
  • Fluency in written English (10 points)

Potential candidates are requested to send their CVs and example of work on related issues to maria@harmreductioneurasia.org no later than 6 pm Vilnius time on April 3, 2018 .

Results will be announced by April 6, 2018. Each candidate will be contacted individually.

Any questions regarding the participation should be sent to maria@harmreductioneurasia.org.

The EU recommendations on alternatives to punishment for crimes – it won’t lead to a paradigm shift, but it will help advocacy effort

Author: Dasha Matyushina, Drug Policy and Human Rights Advisor, EHRA

On March 8, 2018, the Council of Ministers of the European Union adopted final recommendations on alternatives to punishment for crimes committed by people who use drugs.

The adoption of such a document is an important event, especially given the fact it’s courtesy of one of the main bodies of the European Union. Official documents adopted at the highest level frequently mention alternatives to punishment for drug use and possession – for example, the resolution of the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs 2016, the EU Drug Strategy 2013-2020 and the latest EU Action Plan on drugs, adopted just over a year ago.

In fact, the idea is nothing new. Article 36 of the Single United Nations Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, dubbed “Penal Provisions”, defines possible alternatives to punishment:

b) …when abusers of drugs have committed such offences, the Parties may provide, either as an alternative to conviction or punishment or in addition to conviction or punishment, that such abusers shall undergo measures of treatment, education, after-care, rehabilitation and social reintegration in conformity with paragraph 1 of article 38.

The 1988 UN Convention is similar in spirit and style – again we see the terms such as “alternatives to conviction or punishment” and “additional measures”. Law-makers in the USSR and later in the post-Soviet space opted for additional measures such as special prisons for drug addicts and various forms of compulsory treatment…

Is there a significant difference between the international provisions from 60 years ago and the recommendations discussed at the European level today? Why do we think that the international documents adopted over the past few years will somehow help reform drug policies?

First, it’s the official use of the word “alternatives”, which is important. It shows that there’s a consensus that it’s time to try out alternatives to traditional drug policy approaches. Also, the EU documents are gradually moving away from the idea of just “replacing or adding” (which, in fact, allows ample scope for drug prisons), giving clear priority to “replacing” sanctions with non-custodial measures.

Secondly, the EU speaks of alternatives to coercive measures. A fine is a coercive measure which means that a fine for drugs, even a small administrative penalty is not good, it’s a practice that should be replaced with an alternative.

The document adopted by the Council of the European Union in March of this year defines alternatives as follows:

(2) …as education, (suspension of sentence with) treatment, suspension of investigation or prosecution, rehabilitation and recovery, aftercare and social reintegration

Please note that it’s not only the suspension of a sentence but also the suspension of an investigation and prosecution. That means that a decision to send a suspect for treatment or rehabilitation can occur at the time of arrest and before trial.

Another important point is that it’s not just and not so much about sanctions for drug use and possession for personal use, which, according to the document, is not considered “a criminal offense in many countries” (which, as we know, is not entirely true – in the Baltic countries for example possessing microscopic quantities can lead to a fine equal to several monthly salaries). The EU document talks about the whole spectrum of crimes committed by people who use drugs. Most often it’s about thefts committed in order to find money to buy drugs.

The most important thing about the latest EU document is that it recognizes (rather than simply raises the issue for further research) that alternative measures are more effective in reducing repeat offences and social spending, as well as help improve social reintegration.

So, in general, the EU adopted a useful document. It won’t lead to a paradigm shift or a revolution in drug policy; however it will help advocacy effort at the EU and international levels. Our task is to pick quotes from it and target our governments, especially those who still believe that fines and drug prisons are the alternatives to punishment.

Promote your work through Harm Reduction Journal with high impact-factor

Dear colleagues,

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to promote your work through Harm Reduction Journal (HRJ) with high impact-factor.

We would like to encourage you to submit your paper(s) to the thematic series in Harm Reduction Journal: The state of harm reduction in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, to be launched at the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, 23-27 July 2018.

Papers may be submitted on any aspect of substance use, blood-borne infections and harm reduction in the Eastern European and Central Asian regions – research, review, policy, commentary, history.

All articles in this series will undergo the journal’s full standard peer review process.

Deadline for submission: 31 May 2018

For further information, please contact the Editors or visit HRJ webpage: https://harmreductionjournal.biomedcentral.com/call-for-papers

For open access publishing Harm Reduction Journal charge of €1995 for each article accepted for publication (see more: https://harmreductionjournal.biomedcentral.com/submission-guidelines/fees-and-funding). Discounts and limited number of full waivers will be available for authors from low income and lower-middle income countries.

IMPORTANT! Eurasian Harm Reduction Association is ready to support you by providing English language editing/proofreading services. Moreover, we will cover open access costs for authors from communities, whose articles will be accepted for publishing. All request for support from EHRA should be submitted to igor@harmreductioneurasia.org

Translating realities faced by women who use drugs into human rights language is never an easy task

Dasha Matyushina, Drug Policy and Human Rights Advisor, EHRA

On March 2-3 2018 International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific) organized a workshop – which they call a ‘writeshop’, and I like this name – on developing reporting guidelines for NGOs to report to CEDAW on the violations of rights of women who use drugs.

I decided to make these 34 hours of travel to Kuala Lumpur and back for a 16 hours writeshop because of the study we have organized in Estonia in 2017. It was clear from the very beginning that the amount and harshness of the violations of rights of women who use drugs in Estonia we discovered, created an obligation upon us to produce a shadow report to CEDAW.

What IWRAW Asia Pacific does best is making you feel you are an expert in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. They don’t tell you violation of which of the Convention’s articles the case implies, but they give you the text of the Convention and then you tell them whether it’s Article 12 (on health) or Article 16 (on family life).

Translating realities faced by women who use drugs into human rights language is never an easy task but having lawyers in the rooms really helps.

Deprivation of child custody solely because of drug use, which we found to be so prevalent in Estonia, violates Article 16. Non-provision of quality drug treatment services for women with children is the violation of Article 12. Arbitrary arrest and detention of women whom police know as drug users, which we surprised to discover in an EU state, violates Article 2. There is more of cause, but I will always remember CEDAW articles 2, 12 and 16.

EHRA’s research on human rights violations in the EECA will continue, and so our partnership with IWRAW Asia Pacific will. Our next field research is going to happen in St. Petersburg and Leningrad oblast in Russia – a border region with Estonia’s city Narva. We will compare the situation in Russia and Estonia through the lens of CEDAW articles – and we will probably to find more similarities between the policies of these two states that the human rights movement would expect.

Time to act confidently. INPUD and ENPUD community leaders have a meeting in Kyrgyzstan

The three countries’ obligations to support and finance communities of people who use drugs are:

  1. Countries have committed to making key changes by 2030 including for people who use drugs – UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  2. Countries committed to expand access to services including community-led services in the 2016 High Level Political Declaration on Ending AIDS. “Commit to build people-centred systems for health by strengthening health and social systems, including for populations that epidemiological evidence shows are at higher risk of infection and by expanding community-led service delivery to cover at least 30% of all service delivery by 2030”.
  3. The Outcome Document of the UNGASS on the World Drug Problem: Builds on International conventions that: Protect the rights of all people. Do not mandate the decriminalization of drug use. Expresses commitment to improve health of people who use drugs.

Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Estonia, Tajikistan, Russia, Romania,  Great Britain, Uzbekistan, Belarus. INPUD and ENPUD community leaders of people who use drugs have met to learn from each other and think together. The task is to get information about the obligations of our countries at the international level, and using IDUIT’s guidance on organizing programs for and, together with people who use drugs, to think about ways to make budgetary money available to support drop-in centers and monitor the satisfaction of services. How to influence on changes in drug policy and redistribute the costs of repression to programs of social and medical care.

International Network of People who use drugs and Eurasian Network of people who use drugs have organized the meeting. Eurasian Harm Reduction Association joined the training with resources to write an application and receive technical assistance for community-based research and assessment of the real community involvement in the development, implementation and evaluation of harm reduction programs. The skeleton of low-threshold quality services are community-based services. It is possible to assess the transition plan in terms of sustainability of programs for people who use drugs. This is one of the options of the Global Fund’s technical assistance program under the Community, Rights and Gender program. The Association took commitment to inform communities and civil society about this resource and help formulate the request. This is what exactly happening on 26 February to 2 March, 2018 in Kyrgyzstan.