Drug Policy Impact Assessment for Change in Central and Eastern Europe

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While strengthening the advocacy for designing public health and human rights oriented drug policy in Europe, this project focused on the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region, with pilot actions in the three Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Duration of the project: January 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018

Project manager: Eurasian Harm Reduction Network

Project partners: The Rights Reporter Foundation (Hungary), Support centre for those affected by HIV/AIDS DIA+LOGS  (Latvia) and National Institute for Health Development, Infectious Diseases and Drug Abuse Prevention Department (Estonia).

With the integration into the EU, CEE countries and the Baltic states have made progress towards a more balanced and less punitive drug policy as well as more attentive to health and human rights concerns. Examples include the decrease of prisons sentences for drug use and drug possession for personal use in Latvia, Estonia’s naloxone distribution program for overdose prevention, etc. However, the progress made so far is not enough to fully meet the objectives of the EU Drug Strategy 2013-2020. There remains an urgent need to strengthen cooperation between countries’ legislators, law enforcement bodies, public health and public safety experts, and the civil society, including communities of people who use drugs, as well as cross-border cooperation to exchange best practices and lessons learnt during the implementation of the EU strategy.

Specific objectives of the project:
a. To support the creation – or use existing national communication platforms in Baltic countries between legislators, law enforcement bodies, public health, public safety experts, and the civil society to work on: drug policy evaluation, exchange of best practices and promotion of transparent and evidence-base decision-making for national drug policies in Baltic states (and to be used as a model for the CEE region);
b. To improve the understanding of ‘what works’ in drug policy, in particular in the area of alternatives to incarceration and diversion from arrest, harm reduction services efficiencies and financial sustainability and harm reduction response to new psychoactive substances;
c. To obtain national and regional consensus on changes to national drug policy/practice, needed in order to meet the targets of the EU Drug Strategy, which would build upon outcomes of the UNGASS on Drugs of 2016 and lay the foundations and building the consensus for a new Political Declaration on drugs in 2019, including through work with the future Estonian and Bulgarian Presidency of the EU.

The project approach builds on EHRN extensive experience of working in the region on all aspects developed within this project: drug policy assessment, policy environment analysis, documentation of the level of implementation of harm reduction services, advocacy, including video-advocacy, policy development at national, regional, European and UN level and dissemination of information.

Project news: Drug Policy News

Advocacy videos created with Project Partners Rights Reporter Foundation (Hungary): “I Can Live” Coalition YouTube channel