UNODC in Tajikistan: Promoting a human rights-based approach to drug use prevention and treatment in law enforcement

August – September 2022 – UNODC, with the support of USAID and UNAIDS, and jointly with civil society partners, organized a series of trainings aimed at strengthening the collaboration of community-led organizations working with people who use drugs and law enforcement officers, as well as promoting the role of law enforcement in public health. The trainings were conducted by Ms. Zhannat Kosmukhamedova, UNODC Regional Adviser for Eastern Europe and Central Asia on Drugs/HIV, and Mr. Maram Azizmamadov, Director of NGO “Volunteer” in Tajikistan.


According to WHO/UNAIDS estimates, the Eastern Europe and Central Asian region has one of the fastest-growing HIV epidemics in the world. People who inject drugs accounted for almost half of new adult HIV infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (48 percent). The situation is further challenged by the new trends in drug use where new psychoactive substances/stimulants amplify the risk of acquiring HIV among key populations and require comprehensive and innovative approaches which include the involvement of all relevant national stakeholders and place human rights at the forefront. Epidemics in the region are expanded in the face of serious legal and policy barriers, especially punitive laws, stigma and discrimination, insufficient resource mobilization and service provision for the most vulnerable populations. 

The problem originates in huge gaps in understanding what the needs of people who use drugs are and the stigma existing among healthcare workers, law enforcement and decision-makers. To address this gap, UNODC in Tajikistan promotes the strengthening of partnerships between health authorities, civil society, local communities and law enforcement agencies to support human rights and the health of people who use drugs and address drug and HIV-related stigma. The series of trainings were aimed at community empowerment to address the social, cultural, and political determinants that affect health and sought community-led organizations to build partnerships with other sectors in finding solutions. 

On 22-23 September, a training course “The role of law enforcement officers in drug use prevention and prevention of the spread of HIV. Referral scheme to prevention and treatment services” for mid-level and senior officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan, took place. A total of 20 law enforcement officers from around Tajikistan, three CSO representatives and two health specialists took part in the training. The training aimed to highlight the importance of human rights-based policing approaches, especially with regard to key populations. 

During the training sessions, the participants learned about referral mechanisms to harm reduction and HIV prevention and treatment services, the use of alternative or non-custodial sentences for people who use drugs, discussed HIV and drug-related stigma and discrimination and the importance of the participation of law enforcement agencies in protecting public health, including through their systematic work with key populations, among others. Police officers have also improved their knowledge of HIV/TB/HCV transmission, harm reduction services and how law enforcement can positively impact key populations’ access to services.

Between 22 August and 29 September, four more sensitizing workshops for CSOs and law enforcement agencies on cooperation for a better HIV and public health response were conducted in Dushanbe, Khujand, Bokhtar and Khorugh in Tajikistan, where a total of 30 civil society representatives and 67 law enforcement representatives took part. These two-day information workshops titled “Strengthening partnerships between law enforcement and civil society organizations in the context of drug use and HIV” directly focused on the dialogue of civil society and community-led organizations with law enforcement agencies, and on enhancing the civil society organizations’ capacity to advocate with law enforcement to ensure greater access to harm reduction services for people who use drugs.

Sensitizing workshops resulted in the two sides developing the road map of joint activities at the local levels: CSOs are to participate in regular police meetings with the general community; police and CSOs are to organize regular meetings to exchange relevant positions, concerns and ideas; CSOs are to develop an informational stand about the HIV/HCV/TB prevention and services they provide for key groups. 

“UNODC firmly believes that the partnership between law enforcement and health agencies and communities is vital to the effective HIV response since it curbs epidemics at the community level. The elimination of legal barriers to harm reduction depends on the level of competence of employees and personnel of ministries and departments, as well as their gender sensitivity. We are committed to extending our assistance to countries willing to build law enforcement bodies that are knowledgeable, responsive and willing to become agents of change and cohesion in the community,” noted Ms. Kosmukhamedova. 

The feedback received from the participants was very positive. They highlighted the importance of such partnership between law enforcement and civil society to ensure a more human-rights-oriented and evidence-based national HIV response. Community-led trainings have been emphasized as essential for sustainable multisectoral partnership and trust-building and should be part of regular practice in designing and implementing national public health strategies.





For further information, please contact:


Ms. Nurangez Abdulhamidova

Communication and External Relations Officer

UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia

Email: nurangez.abdulhamidova[at]