The first tool for assessment and ranking drug policies in countries around the world, according to UN recommendations, including North Macedonia.
The first edition of the Global Drug Policy Index published in November 2021 by the Harm Reduction Consortium, a coalition of civil society organizations and community associations, and in partnership with scholars, revealed that national drug policies of most countries around the world do not comply with UN recommendations. Governments were asked to place a priority in reforms related to this field.
The Global Drug Policy Index is the first global evidence-based analysis of global drug policies and their implementation. It consists of 75 indicators referring to five broad aspect of drug policies: criminal justice, extreme responses, health and harm reduction, access to internationally controlled medicine and development. Through such a spectrum, this first and only tool of its kind documents, measures and compares national drug policies, rating each country in points. The system illustrates to what degree are the drug polices of a country harmonized with UN principles on human rights, health and development. As such, the Index is a simple assessment mechanism used in drug policies. The first Index evaluates the achievements of 30 countries round the world, encompassing all regions, as well as Macedonia, including with real life stories.
The Republic North Macedonia was ranked seventh among the 30 countries, a relatively good place. Georgia is on the sixth place before Macedonia with the same number of points, then Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Portugal, New Zeeland and Norway on the first place. European countries ranked bellow Macedonia were Hungary as twelfth and Russia as twentieth.
Key facts on North Macedonia in the first edition of the Global Drug Policy Index
In five of the countries analyzed with the Index (Brazil, Columbia, Kirgizstan, Mexico and North Macedonia), the involvement of the army or special forces in drug control raids is considered as endemic to the country’s approach on the implementation of drug-related laws.
Quite concerning is the fact that the data abounds in broadly dispersed human rights violations in the name of drug control and criminal justice, including police violence and torture, random arrests and detention. Only several countries reported that such occurrences are rare. In Afghanistan, Kenia and Kirgizstan, for instance, police violence is prevalent in efforts for drug control, considered as rare (or very rare) occurrence in only 6 countries (Costa Rica, Hungary, New Zeeland, North Macedonia, Norway and the United Kingdom). Likewise, cases of random detention are considered rare in only 3 of the 30 countries analyzed: New Zealand, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
Regarding the right to a fair trial of suspects charged with drug-related violations, the possibility of having a guaranteed fair trial is considered inexistent in Afghanistan, while North Macedonia belongs to the group of 12 countries with significant restrictions in the access to fair trial: Georgia, Ghana, Kenia, Kirgizstan, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, North Macedonia, Russia, Thailand and Uganda. Access to fair trial is considered guaranteed in only 7 countries: Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
The Index assess government’s achievements with regards to the availability and use of alternatives to arrest, prosecution, conviction, and/or punishment for drug-related crimes. Australia, Jamaica, New Zealand, North Macedonia and Portugal received the highest grades (85/100) in providing alternatives to arrests, charges, convictions and/or punishments, with the lowest ranked countries being Columbia, Georgia, Kenia, Morocco, Mozambique and Uganda.
Only 9 countries, among which North Macedonia (Australia, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Kirgizstan, Mexico, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Portugal and Russia) offered alternatives in all three phases (arrest, prosecution, conviction and/or punishment).
More alarming, only 11 countries offer several treatment options depending on people’s needs and preferences (Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Ghana, Hungary, Jamaica, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Portugal, Senegal and the United Kingdom).
Just 1 country (Canada) prescribes a provision on implementation needle exchange programs in prison environment, albeit with limited coverage. From the 30 countries analyzed, 15 provide OAT (Opioid Antagonist Treatment) in prisons, however in practice only 3 countries (North Macedonia, Portugal and the UK) have provided access to OAT for more than 40% of the convicts who are drug users.
Other significant factors
● The militarized approach and the enforcement of the law on drug control still prevail: a certain level of deadly/lethal force by military and police forces was reported in half of the surveyed countries, with широко распространети случаи in Mexico and Brazil.
● Disproportionate impact on drug control on marginalized people on the basis of their sex, ethnicity and socio-economic status was perceived to a certain level in all dimensions and in all countries.
● The implementation of drug-related laws is applied mainly for non-violent violations, particularly for people who use drugs: only 8 of the 30 countries analyzed decriminalized drug possession and drug use, while out of these only 3 managed to trully dissuate people from the казнено-правниот систем.
● Lack of finances for harm reduction is still quite concerning: only 5 out of 30 countries одвоиле “appropriate” amount of finances for harm reduction, and out of these, financing is certain in only one country (Norway).
● A huge gap exists between government policies and their implementation in the provision of access to controlled medicine, particularly in countries like India, Indonesia, Mexico and Senegal, which have scored high in politics but 0/100 for true availability for those who require them.
● Alternative development programs in places where crops are cultivated for illegal drug production remain rooted in prohibition and elimination, with Colombia scoreing particularly low (23/100) due to the militarized strategy focusing on forceful eradication and harmful aerial spraying.
Key links and information:
● The Global Drug Policy Index is a project of the Harm Reduction Consortium, which includes the following partners: the European Network of People Who Use Drugs (EuroNPUD), the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, the Eurasian Network of People Who Use Drugs (ENPUD), the Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO) / Swansea University, Harm Reduction International (HRI), the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), the Middle East and North Africa Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA), the West African Drug Policy Network (WADPN), the Women and Harm Reduction International Network (WHRIN) and Youth RISE.
● The findings of the 2021 Global Drug Index Policy, including the analysis report and the real life-experiences of individuals with drug polices from around the world can be accessed via the interactive web tool available on: www.globaldrugpolicyindex.net