By Forum Droghe and Coordinamento Nazionale Comunità di Accoglienza

After Berlusconi’s government resignation, Italian NGOs appeal to the newly appointed Prime Minister, Mario Monti, for a change in drug policies and for the dismissal of the drug czar, Carlo Giovanardi, and of the Head of the Drug Department, Giovanni Serpelloni. This appeal was signed by 300 professionals.

The upcoming Mario Monti government which was established after Silvio Berlusconi’s resignation and the dramatic situation in Italy requires the implementation of radical changes in political action, style and culture. In this context it is necessary to put an end to the catastrophic experience of Italian drug policies.

The law named after Carlo Giovanardi has filled our overcrowded jails with drug consumers and dependent users. Moreover, the prohibitionist rhetoric has resulted in terrorist and antiscientific campaigns of prevention and mis-information about drugs, to the detriment of effective harm reduction policies. This has caused a breakdown in the relationship between the government and the Regions, as well as Therapeutic Communities, civil society and volunteer associations.

Italy has pushed the debate to the point of contrasting the 2005-2012 EU Drug Strategy, with a reactionary campaign against the very word of “harm reduction”, and even trying to dictate to the other European countries a menu of "acceptable" and "non-acceptable" interventions – a position which was thankfully rejected by other countries. Recently, at the UN High Level meeting on AIDS, the Italian delegates tried once again to eliminate the wording "harm reduction" in the final resolution. This battle was also lost, with the obvious consequence of further boosting Italy's disrepute on the international scene, and relegating Italy in a condition of provincial isolation.

This happened not only because of the firm position of the Italian Drug Czar Giovanardi, but also with the active political collaboration of the Department of Drug Policies headed by Giovanni Serpelloni. Therefore, Forum Drughe and Coordinamento Nazionale Comunità di Accoglienza ask that the new “government of experts” dismiss both the czar and the head of the Department, who have been the leaders of a structure serving only partisan interests.

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