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ID: 1093

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Advocacy

Topics: Human Rights and Harm Reduction; Opioid Substitution Therapy Programmes

Presenting author: Pavlo Skala

Presenting author biography:

Pavlo Skala, Lawyer, Associated Director on Policy and Partnership, Alliance for Public Health, Kyiv, Ukraine, professional expert (10 years of experience) on drug policy and law enforcement,LEAHN country focal point.

Sensitizing Law Enforcement authorities to Harm Reduction and OST for overcoming negligence and abuse of power

Pavlo Skala, Nataliia Kravchenko, Svitlana Tkalya

Background: During the ongoing police and healthcare reforms, there were numerous cases of KPs signaling about gross human rights violations and discrimination (HR clients/OST patients arrested by police at OST site, demand to disclose patients’/drug users personal information, rejecting to provide OST in custody, beating patients). During 6 month of 2016, National OST hotline received 1,211 calls, 44.8% of calls - received from OST patients, 2.6% of these calls related to human rights violation and discrimination.
Methods: Facing multiple human rights and treatment regimens violations (up to 10 OST interruptions in predetention centers during a year), even leading to an OST patient’s death, APH initiated immediate interventions, involving Ombudsman, General Prosecutor, MoI, National Police to investigate cases with wide media coverage; conducting trainings for over 100 Drug Enforcement officers responsible for 15 regions of Ukraine; providing assistance to lawyers and initiative groups to provide legal aid in regions; offering technical assistance to reinforce partnership of NGOs and law enforcers to develop regional drug policy.
Results: The following actions of police were recognized as illegal: police requests to healthcare institutions to disclose patients’ personal information, refusal to provide OST in predetention centers, ungrounded arrests of patients at OST sites. No cases of OST interruption for arrested patients were registered in 2016. 20 narcologists received legal consultations on discriminative actions toward OST patients. Significantly reduced number of human rights violation and discrimination cases in regions. Currently one region is developing an agreement between NGOs, law enforcers and healthcare authorities for effective implementation of harm reduction services.
Conclusions: To overcome low awareness and responsibility leading to negligence and abuse of power toward KPs, target actions should be held at different levels, mobilizing communities and specialists, increase awareness and responsibility of Law Enforcement authorities.