by István Gábor Takács, Video Advocacy Program Director, HCLU

2011 was another busy year for the HCLU. We produced 141 films, out of which 49 are  foreign language and 92 are Hungarian language videos. With the drug policy program we traveled to ten countries and collected footage for the Count the Costs campaign, that calls on governments to count the costs of the 50 year old drug war.

The highlights of our drug policy related videos this year were the “Drug Lords International” video messages and protest, where an imaginary  international drug cartel thanks the UN for their great job in keeping the 400 billion USD market in their criminal hands. The videos got around 150 thousand views and the campaign in Hungary was awarded the best viral video of the year.

We successfully campaigned on the side of the Polish Drug Policy Network to soften the very strict Polish drug laws. The campaign movies were viewed 53 thousand times and the law was changed, so now the public prosecutors will be able to refrain from prosecuting a person for the possession of psychoactive or psychotropic substances if the individual possesses only a small amount of an illegal drug for personal use and has been arrested for the first time.

The Video Program director trained many of the HCLU’s program directors to enable them to film and edit on their own. In the case of the disability rights program director this turned out to so well, that he produced his 45 minute long film “The Invisible” on why mass institutions that still exist for 15 thousand people living with disabilities in Hungary must now close down. The film got very good reviews,  26 thousand views online, was featured in written and online press and was shown on Duna Television.
The Disability rights and patients’ rights program directors jointly produced a video against the criminalization of homelessness, that shamefully happened recently in Hungary.

The Roma program of the HCLU expanded from a few field workers to 26 HCLU points in the countryside where people can Skype with our volunteer Lawyers in Budapest. With 20 payed and 20 volunteer staff, the cases and issues have grown so fast that alongside the full time cameraman we hired a half time editor to work only on these videos. We plan to hire him full time in 2012.

We produced many films for the Roma program, the most important about the sad events that unfolded in Gyöngyöspata. In March 2011 at this small Hungarian settlement paramilitary groups, in the name of public order, intimidated the local Roma population for weeks.

The authorities took no actions against the extremists for a long time. The terrorizing of the local Roma ended up in a fight between the neo-nazis and locals, and according to our knowledge only roma were sentenced at the end. 

We finally became able to train fellow activists and to enable them to use video effectively to advocate for their own causes.   We trained drug policy reformers in Mexico. In 2011 we shot so much material, that we have around 25 films in progress, which will be finished in 2012. 

Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert.