Expatica news

Liege to supply heroin to drug addicts

16 December 2005

BRUSSELS — The city of Liège will start supplying heroin to hardcore addicts in a trial project starting on 1 January 2007, Mayor Willy Demeyer has announced.

Demeyer also said he intends to set up a facility where addicts can use heroin under the city council’s supervision rather than out on the street.

The measures have been a topic of heated discussion in the French-speaking city since 1998, newspaper ‘Le Soir’ reported on Friday.

Since 2002, the issue of supplying heroin to addicts has also been subject to debate between the federal government and cities such as Brussels and Antwerp.

Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt named Liège as the country’s pilot city in 2004 and the city council is now ready to proceed further.

“All parties have agreed. The parliamentary process has started, the municipal obstacles removed and the medical and academic protocols accepted,” Mayor Demeyer said.

“The relationships with magistrates are clarified. We must move over to concrete decisions in the following months.”

He added that if those decisions are not made, it would be akin to “the refusal of help to a city in danger”.
The trial project was inspired by a scheme in Bienne in Switzerland. A Liège city delegation visited the Swiss city in October, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported.

Staff members at the Federal Health Ministry are reportedly “open” to the plans. A study is being conducted, the results of which are expected at the start of 2006.

The message coming from the Justice Ministry is that the proposal is being discussed by the Council of Attorneys-General, which oversees the Belgian public prosecution department.

Legislative change will be necessary for the project to go ahead. Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx will be questioned about the matter in Parliament next week.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news