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REAct cases are included in Matrix for analysing trends in human rights violations against people who use drugs

Partners' publication

In December 2022, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) published Matrix for analysing trends in human rights violations against people who use drugs. The purpose of this Matrix is to facilitate the analysis of documented human right violations by grouping violations into strategic blocks that are easy to use for the subsequent reporting to human rights treaty bodies and/or as part of follow-up advocacy at national level. The Matrix can equip human rights activists with knowledge/skills in how to prepare/ write reports for a human right body. The Matrix aligns the analysis with the environment in which human rights treaty bodies and national governments develop human rights practices, surrounded and mediated by community-led monitoring.

Cases documented through the REAct tool in 2020-2022 in the countries of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region were included in the Matrix to illustrate human rights violations in practice.

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Response stories

Montenegro: Wind of change in healthcare system that brings unexpected moments to the key groups

By the Strategy of Montenegro for the Prevention of Drug Abuse 2013-2020 addiction treatment is conducted within the health care system in the country, and rehabilitation measures aimed at social reintegration and maintaining achieved abstinence are carried out in the social security system. Treatment is planned and implemented in accordance with the needs of each individual and changed, if necessary, in relation to the condition. During the treatment only professionally justified and validated procedures should be used. That means guidelines for the treatment of addiction are necessary, as well as quality standards in relation to treatment introducing in the institutions that provide such services. Also, buprenorphine substitution has not yet been introduced into regular practice in all centers for substitution therapy, as well as changes in healthcare system bring unexpected and not always positive moments to the key groups populations. 

Interrupted treatment… due to the health system

On August, 2022 a user of substitution therapy (OST) contacted REActors with a complaint that his right to health treatment was violated in the way that the distribution of the drug buprenorphine, which was prescribed as a therapy for opioid addiction by a psychiatrist, was interrupted. Due to the changes in the functioning of health system of Montenegro, which is reflected in the abolition of mandatory health insurance and the payment of contributions for the same, as a result of which the Health Fund, as an institution responsible for the procurement of medicines, was left without funds for their purchase, it was difficult to provide many medicines. And so also in this particular case, when there was a cessation of therapy for people using a substitution drug. 

Massive work of REActors

Immediately after receiving the notification from the patient, representatives of NGO CAZAS contacted the competent institutions to check the credibility of the complaints. They tried to react as soon as possible with a press release that was carried by all relevant media and with which they informed the public about the massive violation of the rights of OST patients and called on the authorities to solve the problem as soon as possible. REActors also informed the user who contacted them of his rights, and gave him a copy of the complaint form to the health institution. With this support, the user filled out a complaint, which REActos sent to the health institution.

Thanks to the quick reaction of the members of the organization, sending of press releases and contacting of health institutions, the therapy for OST users continued already the next morning. Complaints submitted to the health services are awaiting a response.

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Response stories

Attempts to “knock out” a confession from an innocent man

Alas, the number of cases of abuse of power by state executive bodies still remains huge. Especially in relation to vulnerable groups of the population. These situations, in the main, go unpunished, due to the fact that clients fear for their lives and revenge from those who should… protect them.

The client (PWID, former prisoner) was at home when the criminal investigation officers came to him and, without explanation, he was taken in handcuffs to the district department of internal affairs. There he was beaten and asked about some kind of gold chain and money that he allegedly took from a neighbor. It turned out that last night someone attacked his neighbor in the street and took away all the money and the gold chain. Due to being a PWID client and ex-prisoner, he immediately fell under suspicion. The man was kept at the department for two days, periodically “knocking out” evidence from him, and then, without explaining anything, he was released. It turned out that he was lucky, because the real robber was caught.

The man was consulted on human rights issues and was asked to write a complaint against law enforcement officers for unlawful arrest and beating. However, he refused to consult with a professional lawyer and did not want to write a statement, because he does not trust and was afraid of persecution for drug use by the authorities.

*PWID – people, who inject drugs

Original Source (in Russian)

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