Drug Policy Impact Assessment for Change in Central and Eastern Europe

31 January 2017

At a meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, EHRN is launching its first project with the European Commission in the field of drug policy. The project, titled “Drug Policy Impact Assessment for Change in Central and Eastern Europe”, will focus on the Central and Eastern Europe region, with pilot actions in the three Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The aim of the project is to involve various groups – from legislators and law enforcement to civil society activists – to work on drug policy evaluation mechanisms and promote transparent and evidence-based decision-making processes for national drug policies. A strategic importance is given to obtaining a national and regional consensus on changes needed to meet the targets of EU Drugs Strategy and, in general, to improve public health and human rights in the area of drug policy.

A two-day meeting, taking place on 30-31 January, is dedicated to setting country-specific goals and objectives of the project, identifying partnerships in each country as well as starting the process of creating the methodology for drug policy impact assessment in the region.

“With the help of Drug Policy Impact Assessment we want the countries to involve civil society and communities of people who use drugs into actual drug policy discussions as well as to promote alternatives to punitive sanctions for drug use and possession. Upon the completion of the project, we hope that civil society will be equipped with better knowledge and skills to conduct drug policy impact assessments and to communicate results to the general public and, eventually, will be regarded as a valuable partner to the state in drug policy reform in their countries," – Dasha Matyushina-Ocheret, Policy Reform Advisor of EHRN, explains the importance of this EU-funded project.

The initial discussions during the meeting in Vilnius have demonstrated that each of the three countries of the projects has varying experiences in the field of drug policy reform, therefore the expectations from the project vary as well. "Speaking about Lithuania, we have to confess, that up until now, there was no leadership in the discourse of drug policy reform. Drug policy impact assessment can become a valuable guide to start a comprehensive dialogue," – says Jurgita Poskeviciute, Director of Coalition ”I Can Live”.

The two-year project is implemented by the EHRN in close cooperation with two national NGOs in Latvia (“Dia+Logs”) and Lithuania (Coalition ”I Can Live”), a public institution from Estonia, the National Institute for Health Development, and a regional NGO working in the area of video advocacy and communications, “The Rights Reporter Foundation”, based in Hungary. The methodology for drug policy impact assessment will be jointly developed by International Drug Policy Consortium and EHRN.

 Co-funded by the European Union.