Drugreporter Team Receives The International Rolleston Award 

May 16, 2017

We are honoured to recieve the most prestigious international award for harm reduction advocacy.

The Rights Reporter Foundation's staff is attending and filming the Harm Reduction International Conference in Montreal, 14-17 May. István Gábor Takács, the video manager and Peter Sarosi, the executive director of RRF received the International Rolleston Award from the board of Harm Reduction International, the organiser of the conference, for their achievements in international harm reduction advocacy. 

"It was 10 years ago at the International Harm Reduction Conference in Warsaw that we produced our first movies and the wisdom of the people attending this conference has been making an incredibly important contribution to what we do today," said Peter Sarosi. He empashized that there are much more activists making videos than ever before, referring to the program of the Drugreporter Film Sessions at the present conference, where as many movies are produced by drug user activists as by professional film makers. Many of these activists were trained by RRF. He also urged participants not to leave behind those activists and professionals who work in countries were harm reduction is in decline and programs are being shut down, such as his own country, Hungary. 

"I see our role as being the prism in the camera, through which your light is going through and we break it down and spread it around in a rainbow of colours." said Istvan Gabor Takacs, emphasizing the empowering role of video advocacy. "Now we help other people to become this phrism by training them in making videos." He said special thanks to Balázs Dénes, his former boss, who first motivated him to start making videos. He pointed out how lucky he is to have people around him who inspired and helped him in his personal route to live a meaningful life. He compared the drug prohibition system to the inquisition where people with power who use certain drugs hurt other people with no power who take other kinds of drugs.  


The International Rolleston Award award was first presented at the ‘3rd International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm’ in Melbourne in 1992. Each year, it is given to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to reducing harms from psychoactive substances at an international level. The award is named after Sir Humphrey Rolleston, President of the Royal College of Physicians who chaired the UK Departmental Committee on Morphine and Heroin Addiction. In 1926 this committee concluded that the prescription of heroin or morphine could be regarded as legitimate medical treatment for those in whom withdrawal produces serious symptoms that cannot be treated satisfactorily under normal practice and, for those for who are able to lead a useful and fairly normal life so long as they take a certain non-progressive quantity, usually small, of the drug of addiction, but cease to be able to do so when the regular allowance is withdrawn. This decision epitomises a benign, pragmatic and humane approach to drug problems, and was a landmark event in the history of harm reduction.

Posted by Peter Sarosi and István Gábor Takács