Bosnia and Herzegovina historically concentrates its efforts on repression of trade and consumption of drugs. However, in view of the complexity and multifaceted nature of drug use and its consequences it is clear that a comprehensive and combined approach, involving actors from the health, social, education, judiciary, law enforcement and civil society sectors, needs to be employed in order to respond to intervention challenges in this area.
Today’s visit to the NGO ‘Celebrate Recovery‘ showed once again that one of the main obstacles in the fight against drugs and drug addiction is a lack of appropriate understanding of the issue of drug use and drug recovery by relevant authorities but also among the general public.
Relevant authorities need to build mutually beneficial partnerships with NGOs like ‘Celebrate Recovery’ and devote additional efforts in early detection, treatment, recovery and reintegration programmes. The recently adopted National Strategy on Supervision over Narcotic Drugs, Prevention and Suppression of the Abuse of Narcotic Drugs for the period 2018-2023 should serve as a starting point for the swift adoption of Action Plan that could define roles of all involved.
BiH authorities have to invest more ambitious efforts to build a legislative and institutional framework capable to address lack of coordination between authorities at state, Entity and Cantonal level. The fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina has no functional drug monitoring centre or national focal point impairs the efficiency and effectiveness in the fight against drugs.
In light of the upcoming Opinion of the European Commission on BiH’s EU membership application, this is a time where BiH and its authorities need to show the necessary determination to invigorate the fight against drugs and finalise the setting up of a national Early Warning System, as one of the conditions under Chapter 24.
The EUD/EUSR representatives commended the dedicated work of NGOs like ‘Celebrate Recovery’, who in the last 10 years supported more than 1,200 drug users on their path to recovery and successful reintegration.