About Drug Policy Reform

Representing different political, cultural and socio-economist contexts, CEECA countries continue to apply prohibition approach and punitive sanctions for drug possession for personal use.

Massive incarceration of people who use drugs is the most obvious, but not the only negative consequence of criminalisation of drug use or possession for personal use. Criminalisation affects health – the fear of police prosecution increases the use of unsterile syringes and thus fuels HIV and viral hepatitis epidemics; overdose mortality rates are also, to a big extend, driven by harsh drug policies. Punitive sanctions for drugs create barriers to social reintegration of people who use drugs decreasing their chance for employment, education and vocational training and, most importantly, building social and family relations.

Punitive sanctions for drug use and possession exit in various forms – it can be years of prison sentences, or arrest for several days, fines or correctional works. While an arrest or a fine cause less harm to health and social wellbeing of an individual than a longterm imprisonment, the substance remains the same – it is a sanction, a punishment, which is aim is to cause suffering, but not to help. Thus real alternatives to criminal sanctions for drugs are not administrative fines but programs that refer people who use drugs to health or social service that they need.

Such referral can be made at the point of arrest and include access to harm reduction programs, opioid substitution and other drug treatment, HIV testing and treatment, mental health programs, vocational training, employment, housing etc. There is growing evidence that diversion from arrest programs cost less and are more effective in terms of decreasing the criminal behaviour (for more information see https://www.leadbureau.org/).

In CEECA diversion from arrest programs only start to be implemented. Pilot programs are run in Estonia and Lithuania, while in a number of countries – Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – their initiation is discussed by national stakeholders. However, the region will go a long way to reorient its drug policies to humanistic and right-based approach.

In fact, any social belief or stereotype built on the thesis that people who use drugs are less worthy of social benefits than those who do not use drugs is a form of violence in itself. Social stigma associated with drugs and criminalisation lead to systematic discrimination of people who use drugs in the healthcare system: they are often denied effective drug treatment such as opioid substitution treatment, HIV and viral hepatitis prevention and treatment, access to pain management, etc. In particular, women who use drugs suffer from disproportional damage: they are deprived of parental rights, they have limited access to sexual and reproductive health care services (especially during pregnancy), they are subjected to brutal police and domestic violence. Their stigmatisation is complex and multifaceted, which makes them much more susceptible and vulnerable to HIV and other infections.

In CEECA, in general, the institutes of the protection of human rights of vulnerable populations are underdeveloped, while there are significant differences in factors that explain low access to and limited efficiency in using human rights instruments. In addition to that, extremely low interest to human rights violations experienced by people who use drugs among ‘mainstream’ human rights and gender rights movements can be explained by extremely high stigma around drug-related issues. In this context, the central role in documenting human rights violation and analysing them through the prism of international and national legislation has to be given to people who use drugs and their ‘traditional allies’ – harm reduction programs.

Regional meetings of EHRA members to elect Steering Committee members in Russia and South-Eastern Europe

On 21 May – 4 June, 2018 EHRA conducts online Regional Meetings of it’s members to elect new Steering Committee representatives in the following regions:

  • Russia (Russia);
  • South-Eastern Europe (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia).

All members (individual and organizational), who are from the above-mentioned regions and who are approved by the Steering Committee have a right to vote in the Regional meetings.

If you have any questions, please contact General Secretary of the Regional meetings – Eliza Kurcevič members@harmreductioneurasia.org

 

Russia

 

Alexander Levin

Know your candidate
CV (rus)     Motivation Letter

Maxim Malyshev

Know your candidate
CV (rus)     Motivation Letter

South-Eastern Europe

Samir Ibisevic

Know your candidate
CV     Motivation Letter

Miso Pejkovic

Know your candidate
CV     Motivation Letter

EHRA announces the General Meeting and Regional Meetings in Russia and South-Eastern Europe regions

On May 21 – June 4, 2018 Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) conducts the General Meeting of its members. During the fortnight, members of EHRA will have online-voting for six main issues:

  1. Approval of EHRA financial report for 2017 year;
  2. Approval of Regulations of the General and Regional members’ meetings of EHRA;
  3. Approval of Regulations of the Steering Committee of EHRA;
  4. Approval to prolong terms for 2 more months for 5 members of the Steering Committee and shorten term of 2 months for 1 member;
  5. Approval of the timeline of the Regional meetings to elect Steering Committee members;
  6. Approval of EHRA Advisory Board.

All members approved by EHRA Steering Committee may participate in the General Meeting. At the moment, there are 205 members. The full list of members is available on the EHRA website – http://harmreductioneurasia.org/members/

Members from the regions of Russia and South-Eastern Europe will also vote for the Steering Committee members to represent their region. Please, find information about the candidates to the Steering Committee to represent Russia and South-Eastern Europe here: http://harmreductioneurasia.org/regional-meetings-of-ehra-members-to-elect-steering-committee-members-in-russia-and-south-eastern-europe/

Details on the voting procedure and participation can be clarified by contacting Eliza Kurcevic via e-mail: members@harmreductioneurasia.org

Apply for additional scholarships for AIDS2018

Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) is the only region in the world where HIV epidemic continues to grow. The XXII International AIDS Conference, which takes place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands pays special attention to EECA region. This provides a good opportunity to draw attention of international community to key challenges that limit access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services in EECA region.

The voice of communities and civil society must be heard loudly. Therefore, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, together with AFEW International, are doing everything possible to increase the participation of communities and civil society at AIDS2018. We have mobilized financial resources to award scholarships for up to 10 community and civil society representatives to cover their conference related costs.

Inclusion criteria for scholarship award

The applicant must:

  • belong to community / civil society from EECA region;
  • have a profile on the conference website: http://profile.aids2018.org/;
  • have a confirmation from the International AIDS Society (IAS) about submitted thesis(s) via aids2018.org website whether thesis accepted as an oral presentation, for poster session or rejected);
  • have a response from the IAS Scholarship Committee about status of the scholarship (rejected or partially supported).

Thematic priorities:

  • Advocacy for changing repressive, discriminatory and criminalizing laws, and law enforcement practices, as well as challenge stigma against key populations and PLHIV in EECA region.
  • Advocacy for meaningful participation of communities in planning, implementation and monitoring of HIV programs at national or local level.
  • Advocacy for ensuring financial sustainability of harm reduction programs, as well as other evidence-based programs for key populations.

Timeframe:

  • deadline for submission – May 14 (next Monday)
  • results of the competition – May 15 (Tuesday)

Such a tight deadline is because May 17 is the last day when conference registration fee is available at reduced price. We want to complete the process by this date to allow more people get supported.

Selection criteria:

  • The content of thesis covers one or more thematic priorities;
  • Presented practice has an obvious and tangible impact on HIV programs at national or local level;
  • Presented practice efficient, sustainable and can be replicated in other countries

The following information will be considered when deciding on the scholarship awards:

  • Key populations (PWUD, MSM, LGBTI, SW, PLHIV);
  • Thesis approved as a poster or oral presentation;
  • Partial aids2018.org scholarship awarded;
  • EHRA membership;
  • Applicant participated in the abstracts mentorship program organized by EHRA/AFEW/Amsterdam Youth Force.

Complete an online form to apply for a full or partial scholarship, which may cover conference fee, flights and accommodation related to AIDS2018.

All questions address to igor@harmreductioneurasia.org

“A good start gives hope for further success!”

2017 became a turning point for the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association. The history of our organization has been started exactly in 2017, when EHRA was registered by the initiative of harm reduction activists and organizations from Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA).

In 2017, a clear-sighted vision of its mission and role in the region, helped EHRA to build from scratch a solid management system, to gain significant support from global and regional communities and partners as well as to launch nine advocacy, coordination and community capacity projects.

This Annual Report reflects all key points in the progress of association in 2017, programming outlines in the CEECA region and the further Strategic Framework 2018-2019.

Thank you for your help in the development of EHRA, the belief in our work and the readiness to go with us together to the goals’ implementation.

Full version of the Annual Report can be found by link.

Joint Statement of Civil Society Organizations in advance of the Thirty-Ninth Meeting of the Global Fund Board

On May 9–10 2018, the Global Fund’s Board will consider revisions to the Fund’s Eligibility Policy based upon recommendations from its Strategy Committee. While some of these recommendations are positive, others raise serious concerns.

In this regard organizations representing civil society and including communities of people living with and affected by the three diseases and other key populations from different countries and regions – developed a Joint Statement to share with Global Fund Board members their position on several critical issues that should be considered by the Board during its deliberations on the Eligibility Policy.

The Statement signed by 41 international, regional and national level organizations was sent to the focal points of all Delegations to the GF Board as well as to GF Board Leadership and GF ED. 7 more organizations signed the statement after it was sent.

We hope that our position will be taken into account by the Global Fund Board members when making decisions on the eligibility issues during the Board meeting.

The final version of the document – Joint Statement of Civil Society Organizations in advance of the Thirty-Ninth Meeting of the Global Fund Board.

Regional Сommunity Networks Consortium submitted multi-country proposal for GF funding to insure sustainability of HIV services for key populations in EECA

The Regional Community Networks Consortium (RCNC) of five regional networks in EECA has successfully developed and submitted a proposal for the Global Fund.

Continue reading “Regional Сommunity Networks Consortium submitted multi-country proposal for GF funding to insure sustainability of HIV services for key populations in EECA”