• 08 March 2024


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Rethinking Gender-Sensitive Justice: Women, Drugs and Criminal Alternatives

    On International Women's Day, we reflect on the unique challenges women face in the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to minor drug offences

    With a rate of 30 women deprived of liberty per 100,000 inhabitants, the female prison population rate in Latin America is the highest in the world[i]. Deprivation of liberty for this type of crime has a profound and often devastating impact on the lives of thousands of women deprived of their liberty, both personally and in their families and communities.

    In recent times, criminal policy on drug trafficking has been characterised by a maximisation of criminal law, what does this mean? A greater use of criminal law as a tool to combat crime and guarantee social order, which in this case is materialised in the lack of proportionality in the treatment of minor drug offences, the excessive use of pre-trial detention, and a clear commitment to prison as the main retributive strategy; a space in which criminal alternatives are significantly reduced.

    This approach has also permeated the general population, conditioning their understanding of the drug phenomenon and associated crimes, leading to demands for more control and security that ultimately translate into a reinforcement of drug interdiction policies and, of course, greater punitiveness and penal populism.

    As for women, who represent 8% of the prison population in Latin America, their incarceration is on the rise, with a reported 56% increase of women in the prison population between 2000 and 2022, compared to a 24.5% increase in the overall prison population in the same period.

    The consequence: a vicious circle that needs to be broken.

    Differential impacts

    Women imprisoned for minor drug offences experience a range of differential impacts compared to their male counterparts. In addition to the social stigma associated with prison, many women face the loss of custody of their children, which can have lasting emotional and psychological consequences. Furthermore, the lack of adequate access to mental health services and drug rehabilitation programmes for women with problematic drug use within prisons exacerbates existing problems and hinders successful reintegration into society upon release.

    Incarceration does not address the structural causes that lead women to engage in drug-related activities. Poverty, social exclusion, lack of access to services, resources and meaningful opportunities are underlying factors that drive many women to enter the lowest rung of the drug trade as a means of livelihood. These determinants of criminal behaviour are, in turn, factors of recidivism, which confront us with a panorama of inequalities and social asymmetry.

    In this context, it is urgent to move towards a new criminal rationality in terms of proportionality and the search for alternatives to imprisonment for these crimes and, in particular, for women. To advance in a policy dialogue between the powers of the State and institutions at all levels, involving the perspective of civil society and generating ways of working that comprehensively address the inequalities that are at the root and root of the problem.

    International Women’s Day is a good time to reflect on and re-evaluate our policies and practices in relation to women in the criminal justice system, particularly with regard to minor drug offences. Adopting a more humane and community-centred approach not only benefits individual women, but also contributes to building more just, equitable and sustainable societies for all.

    The COPOLAD III Programme is working in this direction, that of improving the response capacity and proportionality of penal frameworks in the face of drug-related challenges, as well as in the development of alternatives to detention or imprisonment aimed at reducing recidivism. On this path, COPOLAD has been accompanying national processes (Costa Rica; Paraguay; Trinidad and Tobago and, soon, the Dominican Republic), while generating articulations with regional organisations that work along these lines, and that have the potential to leverage changes on a regional scale and guarantee the sustainability and scaling up of the results that COPOLAD supports, as is the case of COMJIB and AIDEF.

    Beatriz López Lorca

    Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Castilla-La Mancha has been mobilised by FIIAPP (Spanish Cooperation) to support the European programme on drug policy COPOLAD III.

    Mario Germán Sánchez González

    Drug Policy Expert at FIIAPP (European COPOLAD Programme)




    [i] IACHR. Women Deprived of Liberty in the Americas, 2023. In this regard, the prison population rate in a region or country is obtained by calculating how many persons are deprived of their liberty per 100,000 inhabitants in that region or country. See: UNODC, Custodial and non-custodial measures – Criminal Justice Assessment Toolkit, 2010, p. 6.


  • 19 May 2023


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    A fresh breath of air

    Alfonso Ramírez, Head of the Community Prevention Service, Diputación de Huelva (Spain), reflects on the relationship between drugs and vulnerabilities after his presentation at the International Seminar "Drugs, Vulnerabilities and Territory" that the EU programme COPOLAD, led by FIIAPP, held in Fortaleza, Brazil

    The International Seminar “Drugs, vulnerabilities and urban territories” held in Fortaleza (Brazil) organized by the Ministry of Justice of that country and by COPOLAD at the end of last April, gave us the opportunity to look at the drug sector from a different perspective than the one we are used to: that of cooperation for development, an approach that broadens and illuminates the possibilities of intervention in addictions.
    The final communiqué of the event proposed “a new generation of more effective and humane drug policies”, something we are in need of not only in Latin America and the Caribbean but also in Europe and Spain.
    It is good for Spanish professionals to hear about drug policies related to the fight against exclusion, violence and poverty; about community, economic and urban development; about approaches based on the promotion of mental health and gender equality. New approaches and experiences that contribute to renewing a discourse on drugs that is sometimes anchored in old patterns.
    In the case of Spain, we refer to arguments according to which drugs no longer interest citizens in surveys, when the truth is that the question is poorly posed, as it leaves out numerous problems related to addictions that concern citizens; when corporativism is fed by proclaiming that we run the risk of disappearing as a sector if we get too close to mental health or primary care; or when it is stated that the biggest problem of prevention is its lack of scientific evidence, ignoring the lack of investment and support for its professionals.
    Half-truths and corporate fears are not going to stimulate scientific progress in the sector, nor promote political momentum, nor facilitate the approach to the public by offering the alternatives that the new needs require.
    To this end, it would be desirable to introduce some changes, one of which would be for the sector to be more open to dialogue and to advances in other areas of knowledge and practice (it is not enough to make a profession of interdisciplinary faith) and another could consist of including communication in the training of its professionals. It is not just a matter of journalists communicating better when they talk about drugs; it is also a matter of addiction professionals being good communicators and learning to speak the languages that will enable them to communicate with other professionals, politicians and citizens.
    It is probably time to renew the discourse of addiction prevention in our country. Addiction prevention should speak of autonomy, empowerment, emancipation and human rights. It would have to promote the social and emotional skills necessary for the integral development of the person and an education in values capable of critically analyzing certain traditional values related to consumerism, competitiveness and violence. Its plans would have to link and strengthen those of equality, child and adolescent development, mental health or healthy and sustainable urban development. New urban planning has much to say about environmental prevention.
    In short, the preventive discourse should be explicitly in favor of human development, emancipation and social justice.
    The development cooperation approach represents a good opportunity to broaden the view on the phenomenon of addictions and its link with the hegemonic socioeconomic development model. At the moment, it is very difficult to separate the understanding of addictions from the hyper-consumerist development model in which we are immersed.


    Alfonso Ramirez , Head of the Community Prevention Service, Diputación de Huelva (Spain).
    alfonso arellano
    He has worked as a psychologist and family psychotherapist for thirty years. He has been vice-president of the Atenea Foundation. He has directed the Social Prevention Unit of the Huelva Provincial Council since its creation ten years ago. He has published several books on addictions: Acting locally in (drug)dependencies. Pistas para la elaboración de estrategias, planes y programas municipales (GID); Coaching para adictos. Integración y exclusión social (Atenea); Dramadependencia (Fundamentos); and Gramática de la prevención de adicciones (Junta de Andalucía).


  • 02 November 2022


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Living without discrimination in Morocco

    Over the last twenty years, Morocco has gone from being a country of emigration to a country of transit and settlement of migrants. This new dimension of migratory movements confronts Moroccan society with new realities that need to be gradually integrated at the political, economic and social levels

    Sara Gutiérrez Leiva is coordinator of the project “Living without discrimination: a human rights and gender-based approach“, which has worked on the protection of migrants in Morocco.

    Five years of actions that are now coming to an end: What has been achieved?

    A challenge for the country: the National Strategy on Immigration and Asylum

    Every year, Morocco receives an increasing number of migrants, mainly from Sub-Saharan Africa. This is a challenge that requires resources to ensure the protection of migrants, with a specific focus on women.

    Convivir sin discriminación en Marruecos
    FIIAPP team of the ‘Living without discrimination in Morocco’ project’

    Despite normative advances, migrants and refugees are susceptible to racist incidents and racial discrimination. Civil society organisations, in fact, report situations of discrimination in access to housing, health services, employment or schooling for migrant children.

    The truth is that racist and xenophobic incidents have consequences not only for the victim and the social group to which he or she belongs, but also constitute an obstacle to social cohesion and coexistence, creating a threat to society as a whole.

    For this reason, in 2014 the Kingdom of Morocco adopted a novel National Strategy on Immigration and Asylum that has enabled progress to be made on the migration issue in public policies in various areas such as education, health, housing, training and employment. ‘Living without discrimination: a human rights and gender-based approach’ is part of this National Strategy, specifically in the objectives of combating discrimination and communication and awareness-raising on immigration and asylum issues.

    The project

    A plural and diverse society has much to gain: social cohesion and a firm determination that racism and xenophobia do not cross its borders. In our societies today, the challenges are many and diverse, but projects such as ‘Living without discrimination’ are the first seeds for improving people’s lives from a human rights-based approach and the protection of migrants’ rights.

    In addition, this European Union initiative led by AECID, FIIAPP and OBERAXE, integrates the gender dimension, which is imperative to understand the whole world around us. We put on our purple glasses to see that migrant women can suffer double discrimination: racist and sexist.

    Our objective: to strengthen the instruments and public policies aimed at preventing racism and xenophobia towards the migrant population in Morocco in order to promote coexistence.

    How have we dealt with it?


    • Supporting technical capacity building of public administrations in the key sectors of education, health, justice and local administration and of civil society organisations (CSOs), which have a key role in preventing and combating racism and xenophobia.
    • Integrating a working approach between Moroccan, North African and European partners in order to establish a space for meeting, reflection and exchange of experiences among equals.
    • Launching awareness-raising campaigns and actions on the issue, and working closely with media professionals to improve the media’s treatment of migration, as they are key to combating stereotypes about the migration phenomenon and debunking hoaxes.
    • Support for the improvement of legislation in Morocco in this area, and for the improvement of complaints mechanisms and the way in which information is collected.
    • Promotion of the experiences and good practices of host countries or countries with similar contexts to Morocco, such as Tunisia, which serve as inspiration to improve the inclusion of the migrant population.
    • Creation of spaces for consultation and debate on racism and xenophobia towards the migrant population in Morocco, which until then had not been openly addressed at the institutional level or with civil society.



    It is said that knowledge is the best capital, which is why we are launching a series of publications that bring together all the work done, achievements, recommendations and lessons learned. A total of 14 publications covering the five components of the project shed light on essential issues to address racism and xenophobia in Morocco.

    Learnings : 14 publications


    1.Analysis report on the standards and recommendations of international, regional and EU organisations in the field of anti-discrimination against migrants, racism and xenophobia + Executive Summary.

    The principles of equality and non-discrimination, as well as measures to combat racism and xenophobia, have been progressively recognised by international law, which has provided the necessary mechanisms for the protection of the victims of these rights violations. This report identifies international standards for the protection of migrants against discrimination, racism and xenophobia at the level of the universal system and at the regional level (European Union, South America and Africa).

    2. Comparative study of the norms and legislation on racial/ethnic discrimination, racism and xenophobia in Spain, France, Tunisia and Morocco + Executive Summary.

    We present the main aspects of the comparative study of standards and legislation on racial/ethnic discrimination, racism and xenophobia in Spain, France, Tunisia and Morocco. The aim of this study is to identify instruments whose analysis will provide avenues for reflection and recommendations to strengthen ongoing national mechanisms in this field, in particular that of the Kingdom of Morocco.

    3. Identification of training programmes, taking as an example the European experience in preventing and combating racism and xenophobia towards the migrant population + Conclusions and recommendations + Executive Summary

    This report offers a series of recommendations based on the experiences analysed in European countries (Spain, Ireland, Romania and Lithuania) for the training of public administration staff in Morocco in the prevention of racism and xenophobia. To this end, an analysis was carried out of the key success factors of the benchmark training programmes on the subject, developed in the four European countries in relation to the public administration areas of security, education, health, justice and social and local services.

    4. Identification, selection, analysis and exchange of experiences of existing good practices at European level in the field of communication and awareness-raising for the prevention and fight against racial discrimination, racism and xenophobia towards migrant populations.

    This report presents the exploratory study of awareness-raising and communication experiences (strategies, information and awareness-raising campaigns, etc.) in the field of prevention of racism and xenophobia in five European countries implemented between 2017 and 2020. The aim of the study is to analyse awareness-raising and communication models in different social contexts to prevent racism and xenophobia and to inspire action in Morocco. The experiences analysed were carried out in Belgium, Spain, Finland, France and the Netherlands.

    5. Training manuals on combating racism and xenophobia

    These four documents are a tool whose main objective is to promote and strengthen the competences of public administrations (in the education, health and justice sector) and at local level in the prevention of racism and xenophobia, taking into account the gender approach. In this way, it aims to improve the knowledge, skills and attitudes of public administration staff to prevent and combat racism and xenophobia towards migrant women and men in Morocco.

    6. The intersectionality of discrimination based on race, ethnicity and gender + Executive Summary.

    This document presents the conceptual definition of intersectionality and its institutional treatment at the international, regional and Moroccan levels. In addition, it aims to provide some elements of reflection on how to approach the integration of the gender approach in actions to combat racism, xenophobia and racial discrimination in Morocco, based on international experiences. It also aims to draw on the experience of the ‘Living without Discrimination’ project in terms of the visibility and treatment of this type of discrimination.

    All the documents are available for download in several languages: Arabic, French, Spanish and English and in summary versions.


  • 16 September 2022


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Caring for those who care for us: mental health in the security forces

    Police officers can develop mental and physical health problems due to the traumas they face during their career. Understanding and learning how to manage stress helps to prevent, recognise or avoid misbehaviour that undermines public trust in law enforcement. How do we address mental health in law enforcement?

    Valentina Salvato, project officer of the project Promoting community policing in Lebanon, co-led by the FIIAPP, reflects on the importance of paying attention to mental health in police forces and the action developed by the project through various training courses for this purpose.

    Why is this approach necessary?

    Being a police officer means being exposed on a daily basis to traumatic events that can endanger their own life: accidents, violence, critical situations and emergencies, natural disasters… All of these entail risks that can affect the mental health of any person. Moreover, we must take into account the current context of Lebanon, a country affected by an unprecedented severe political, economic and financial crisis and a series of traumatic events – the demonstrations of October 2019, the Beirut port explosion in August 2020 and the consequent worsening of the Covid-19 pandemic – which have had a direct impact on the lives of citizens, their behaviour, their psychological stability and their mental health. 

    How do we address mental health within the security forces?
    Cuidar de quien nos cuida: la salud mental en las fuerzas de seguridad
    The Chief Inspector of the Spanish National Police and director of the project, Joaquín Plasencia García (left), with one of the Lebanese officers who participated in the training in Aramoun.

    From the project Support to community policing in Lebanon, we seek to shed light on the issue of mental health in the security forces: a problem that is often ignored, unknown or even rejected. However, the truth is that police officers can develop mental and physical health problems due to the traumas they face during their career. Understanding and learning to manage stress helps to prevent, recognise or avoid misbehaviour that undermines public confidence in law enforcement. As the chief inspector of the Spanish National Police and director of the project, Joaquín Plasencia García, points out, “if a police officer loses the trust of citizens, he loses everything”.  

    For this reason, we support the Lebanese police in order to implement a preventive and psycho-educational strategy with psychological tools and methodologies to prevent, protect and resolve possible stress situations. 

    Thanks to the trainings we have offered in Lebanon, such as the last one at the Internal Security Forces Academy (Aramoun), 63 police officers have received tools to prevent and deal with stress situations, conflict resolution, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anger management or emotion control. This mental health training is also an excellent form of primary prevention, as it increases the knowledge, awareness and resilience of all officers, achieving a direct impact on citizen care, as it reduces and prevents episodes of misconduct in the security forces.  

    By caring for the well-being of those who care for us, citizens receive better care and service. 

  • 22 August 2022


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    “Migration is an opportunity”

    Peggy Martinello is the Director of Public Administration and Social Affairs at FIIAPP. Part of her work consists of promoting specific migration policies in the world, including this perspective in each of the norms, laws and social policies that are promoted. As a migrant herself, she now reflects on her own experience and on the importance of building and sharing public policies to improve people's lives

    I am French and have been living in Spain for almost two decades. I am a migrant, a foreigner, but I have been extremely lucky to have the support of a legal framework that has allowed me to settle, to study, to work, to access the same rights and public services as any Spanish citizen.

    Before me, my maternal grandparents also migrated, from impoverished rural Portugal in the 1950s, to a France in full economic expansion after World War II. As did my paternal great-grandparents, who fled fascist Italy in the 1920s. They did not have as many opportunities, neither in their migratory route, nor in their reception, nor in their integration. I am constantly reminded of the importance of institutionality and public policies that, from the territorial space, need to be built and shared with others to improve systems.  

    Migration is an opportunity and cooperation is an axis for articulating societies and institutions in countries of origin, destination and transit. This decentralised cooperation is a privileged space to contribute to the construction of operational responses to the challenges of human mobility. 

    There are three elements that seem to me to be particularly important when analysing the reality of migration. These are the multidimensionality of the phenomenon; the need to move away from linear analytical frameworks that associate, for example, economic development in countries of origin with the reduction of migratory movements; and, finally, the importance of policy coherence. 

    In addition, there is another perspective that I would like to raise: the importance of public technical cooperation, based on the experience of public management, particularly at the territorial level. 

    I believe that it is particularly relevant to address responses to the challenges of mobility from the territorial level because it is the space of proximity, where attention to migrants, their protection, their inclusion, where diasporas working with countries of origin meet, where public services are connected, where education and training for employment are developed.

    In this sense, the role of decentralised cooperation makes a lot of sense, as it can weave around its territorial added value. In other words, local and regional authorities can focus their cooperation on those areas of public management where they have the greatest expertise or experience.

    Peggy Martinello. Director of Public Administration and Social Affairs at FIIAPP

  • 07 June 2022


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    We want to ensure that there are female police officers to care for victims

    La situación inestable del Líbano o el contexto social del país visibilidad de este problema, mientras que los abusos domésticos siguen creciendo.  

    In a country affected by multiple problems and continuous crises – financial, political and social – violence against women continues to receive neither the attention nor the necessary political reaction. The social context, deeply centered on family and patriarchal clans, hinders the visibility of this problem, while domestic abuse continues to grow.

    In the last 12 months, the number of domestic violence incidents increased from 747 to 1,468, according to statistics collected by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF).  This increase, attributed to the country’s economic and financial crisis and the United Nations’ so-called “shadow pandemic”, in reference to the coronavirus, is an entrenched scourge in Lebanese society.

    In recent years, the demands of numerous social groups have achieved significant, but still insufficient, progress. In December, Lebanon amended its domestic violence law to criminalize abuse “resulting” from marriage. Despite this, the updated legislation does not clearly cover violence against divorced women, nor does it criminalize marital rape, nor does it prevent discrimination against women in divorce and child custody disputes.

    Most of these crimes remain silenced within the family, while the cases that do make it into the public eye suffer from the perpetuated culture of victim-blaming.

    Through our Community Policing project and thanks to the support provided by the Family and Women’s Care Unit (UFAM) of the CNP, we are helping to improve police investigation and care for victims of domestic violence in Lebanon.

    We are promoting the creation of the Domestic Violence Unit within the ISF and the assignment of at least two police officers trained in victim care and investigation of these types of crimes in the 12 territorial police stations in the country. We want to ensure that there are female police officers to attend to victims, as currently there are only men, and we aspire to provide more comprehensive care to all victims, institutionalizing the provision of social, health, psychological and legal services to all victims.

    With the strong commitment of our entire Community Policing team and the support of the Lebanese police, we will continue to fight domestic violence and train police officers to improve care and service to all victims.