Drug Law Reform by Civil Society

5 July 2017

The winners of the small grant program „Through Peers´ Effort-7. From Street to Government” launched by the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) have just been announced. The grants are awarded to five non-governmental organizations from the regions of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).

“It was not easy for us to pick the winners, all the participants including the winners are powerful organizations effectively working in drug control and differing in their approaches. For example, one of the winners, the organization Tvoi Shans (“Your Chance”) from Belarus is fighting for the right of OST clients to drive a car. The Harm Reduction Association from Kyrgyzstan is reviewing a new draft of the drug law reform in the country and the grant they have won will enable them to bring more experts to the process and involve more people from the community.  The Georgian White Noise movement is a unique idea in itself, the leaders of this movement have mobilized 20 000 people to influence the drug law reform and are directly involved in drafting the new drug law in Georgia,” – says Olga Belyaeva, EHRN Manager in charge of community mobilization, about the grant winners.

In the first year of the project “From Street to Government” the initiave group Puls from Moldova proved itself as an organization of strong street lawyers. The small grants will give them a chance to strengthen their ties with the governments and push for a different approach to PUD in terms of decriminalizing storage and use of drugs for private consumption.  The youth movement Youthrise and the Association "Žaliojo žiedo draugija" from Lithuania both got involved into the activities helping decriminalize marihuana and mobilize young people to push for drug law reform.

The small grant program „Through Peers´ Effort-7. From Street to Government” for grassroots organizations and initiative groups of the people who use drugs (PUD) in the EECA region aimed to improve cooperation between networks and gain more authority for PUD as experts, as well as to humanize drug policies and protect human rights in the region.

The organizations and initiative groups from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Estonia took part in the small grants program. The jury members (representatives of the Eurasian Network of People who Use Drugs (ENPUD), EHRN and an external expert on drug policies) have considered more than 20 applications from 8 countries.  The quality of the applications have demonstrated that many organizations do understand the importance of better drug control policies as a key factor protecting the rights of PUD and ensuring their access to support and assistance.

The grant winners are:

– the Republican Social Community Organization Tvoi Chance (“Your Chance”) (Belarus);

– ACESSO (International Organzation for Woman) and the White Noise Movement (Georgia);

– Organization of Legal Persons, Association “Harm Reduction Network” (Kyrgyzstan);

–Association “Žaliojo žiedo draugija" and the initative group "Young People Who Use Drugs, Lithuania" and support to the movement "Youth Rise” (Lithiuania);

– PULS Initiative Group (the Union of organizations engaged in HIV prevention and harm reduction) (Moldova).

The small grant winners are invited to attend a regional meeting “Drug Control Policies and Community: New Knowledge and Common Concept for Action” to be held on July 10 – 12, 2017  in Moldova.  The meeting will be chaired by international experts such as Jamie Bridge (IDPC),  Мurtaza Majid (“Youth rise”) and a regional expert in advocacy for drug law reform David Subeliani from the White Noise Movement (Georgia).

The small grant program “Through Peers´ Effort-7. From Street to Government” was launched within the framework of the "Strengthening Civil Society Advocacy for Critical Enablers of the HIV Response for People Who Use Drugs" Project funded by Robert Carr Network Foundation (RCNF).