Workshop on Enhancing Partnerships between Law Enforcement and Civil Society Organisations in the context of Drug Use and HIV.

18 th and 19 th November, 2015 Abuja NIGERIA

 

In the context of scaling up access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support there is increasing global recognition of the importance of multi-sector partnerships. One of the most important of these partnerships is between the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) working on the ground. LEAs can play a positive role in protecting the individual and public health, especially of diverse and vulnerable communities. In the context of people who use/inject drugs, LEAs have an important role in ensuring that people who use drugs have uncompromised access to essential social and health services.

On 18 th and 19 th November 2015, UNODC in partnership with National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and UNAIDS conducted a two day workshop on "Enhancing Partnerships between Law Enforcement and Civil Society Organizations in the context of Drug Use and HIV" in Abuja, NIGERIA.  The workshop is part of the continued engagement that was initiated with LEA and CSOs in 2014 aimed at intensifying the dialogue and engagement with the law enforcement officials about harm reduction services in the context of HIV.  This partnerships dialogue also serves as an opportunity for the LEA and CSOs to share respective views, concerns and ideas.

 

The workshop was attended by 14 Representatives from LEAs (Police, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency(NDLEA), Prison services, Legal aid council, Federal Road safety Corps, Immigration services, Armed forces, National Emergency Management Agency, Nigeria Immigration Service, National Human Rights Commission) and 18 representatives from CSOs (Population Council, YouthRISE, Centre for Right to Health, Heartland Alliance and Society for Family Health)  in addition to the participation of UNAIDS and NACA.

The two day workshop witnessed vibrant discussion between law enforcement and civil society organizations. Both felt the need for a strong partnership between them on a regular basis. A major conclusion from the workshop was the need for advocacy with the LEAs and NDLEA to review the punitive laws and policies, and all agencies wanted the process to be led by NACA. The need for dialogue among LEAs, Ministry of Health and Civil society for rolling out OST and NSP implementation among PWIDs was emphasized.  Adequate sensitization and capacity building initiatives were identified as an important step in providing access to harm reduction services. Creating and sustaining a PWID network was also identified as an important step in increasing access to access harm reduction services in Nigeria.

All participants felt that the workshop had enhanced Nigeria HIV programme's ability to better understand programmatic needs and priority issues around PWIDs. The law enforcement agencies wanted to conduct more such workshops for different LEA and CSOs within their organisation as a next step to take things forward!