Italy
NGOs criticise Italian government stance on harm reduction drug policies  
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Forum Droghe, a coalition of NGOs that are active in the fields of drug addiction and harm reduction wrote a highly critical letter expressing their "deep" concern about the contents of a document submitted by the Italian government to the Spanish EU Presidency and the EU's Vienna-based Horizontal Group on Drugs.

This describes the claim in the document "Measures and concrete actions for the prevention of drug related diseases" that it was a result of "wide consultation with NGOs and professional bodies" as "misleading". In particular, they criticise the notion that the definition of harm reduction should exclude measures adopted in other EU countries, such as pill testing, controlled heroin distribution and drug self-administration rooms, and note that it is not the result of a "consensus", as some NGOs presented as signatories took part in discussions without approving the entire document, whereas others boycotted the process altogether, deeming that "prejudice" and "political" and "ideological" views prevailed over "scientific evidence". In particular, the Italian document argues that:

"Messages about minimizing risks could actually be interpreted by the 'naïve' target group as indirect messages saying that the use of drugs is 'acceptable and tolerable', especially if reinforced by the idea that 'if it is done in a certain way' drug use can be less harmful and therefore the target group could see the correlated risks as 'acceptable'. It is absolutely necessary to avoid such misunderstanding and misinterpretation on the part of the 'naïve' target group, since such perceptions could encourage the onset of risky behaviours and an underestimation of the gravity of the problem on their part."

Sources

Forum Droghe, Associazione di promozione sociale, letter to the EU Group in Vienna, 23.2.2010.(pdf)

"Measures and concrete actions for the prevention of drug related diseases", Italian government policy paper

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