The Street Lawyers (Gadejuristen) provide a fascinating example of the way legal assistance can be implemented among street based drug users. The organization is based in Copenhagen, Denmark, and provides legal aid to the most disadvantaged drug users in the city. In addition to sterile injecting equipment they distribute pocket size cards with questions and answers about drug laws and harm reduction. When our video team attended the meeting of the International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD) in Copenhagen in November 2008, they filmed the daily activities of the NGO (as part of our EDPI project).
Street Lawyers are among the best known advocates of the human rights of drug users in Denmark and they played an important role in the promotion of innovative ways to reduce drug related harms. The Danish government made an important step two years ago when it decided to introduce heroin maintenance for the most vulnerable group of heroin users. The program will start soon. However, there is no supervised injection facility in Denmark (like Insite in Vancouver
), so many people use heroin on the streets, in a risky environment where they face police harassment as well. The local police designated so called no-go-zones in the city center. Homeless drug users are not allowed to enter these zones, even if this makes it difficult to approach the needle exchange service. There is still a lot to do for Gadejuristen, who celebrated their 10th
birthday this year. We congratulate on their succesful advocacy efforts and wish them a happy birthday with this short movie!
Posted by Peter Sarosi