Iveta Chovancová is the director of Odyesus, a harm reduction NGO based in Bratislava, Slovakia. We interviewed her about trends in drug policies in her country.
European Drug Policy Initiative
The European Drug Policy Initiative (EDPI) is a project of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) in cooperation with professionals and NGOs from six European countries: Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Serbia. We selected these target countries in order to reflect the diversity of national drug policies and geopolitical characteristics found in the European Union and its candidates. Bulgaria and Poland represent new member states with restrictive drug policies, while older member states like Portugal are considered to have a more liberal approach. National drug policies cannot be differentiated using the East/West divide that exists within the EU. For instance, Sweden is famous for its democratic welfare society but has a traditionally restrictive attitude toward mind altering substances. On the other hand, the Czech Republic, having endured decades under a totalitarian regime, now endorses a relatively liberal drug policy.
The aim of the project is to advance drug policy reform in the European Union with providing tools for advocacy in the national and international level:
- public opinion surveys
- videos on national drug policy issues (posted on video sharing sites)
- media work (improving the press coverage of national/international campaigns)
- targeting political parties
- targeting international decision making forums (e.g. UN and EU forums)
We have tremendous amounts of evidence both on the harmful unintended consequences of current drug control policies and on the effectiveness of alternative harm reduction measures. However, the ciritcal voices of professionals and NGOs are not heard by the mainstream society. EDPI aims to implement policy change with oriented campaigns targeting society through the media. It connects scholarship with PR methods, attempts to use modern communication tools to advertise new, innovative answers to drug problems, mobilize drug user communities to come out of the closet. Even though Europe is considered small in a geographical sense compared to the United States, due to cultural and language barriers it is more difficult to raise awareness on the necessity of drug policy reform.
EDPI is supported by the Global Drug Policy Program of the Open Society Institute (OSI) and the Commonsense for Drug Policy Foundation.European Drug Policy Initiative News
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