Human Rights Watch - Vietnam: Torture, Forced Labor in Drug Detention

Date: 07 September 2011

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Human Rights Watch - Vietnam: Torture, Forced Labor in Drug Detention: Companies, Donors Should Press Government to Close Centers

Human Rights Watch ­– People detained by the police in Vietnam for using drugs are held without due process for years, forced to work for little or no pay, and suffer torture and physical violence, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Government-run drug detention centers, mandated to “treat” and ”rehabilitate” drug users, are little more than forced labor camps where drug users work six days a week processing cashews, sewing garments, or manufacturing other items.

The 121-page report, “The Rehab Archipelago: Forced Labor and Other Abuses in Drug Detention Centers in Southern Vietnam,” documents the experiences of people confined to 14 detention centers under the authority of the Ho Chi Minh City government. Refusing to work, or violating center rules, results in punishment that in some cases is torture. Quynh Luu, a former detainee who was caught trying to escape from one center, described his punishment: “First they beat my legs so that I couldn't run off again... [Then] they shocked me with an electric baton [and] kept me in the punishment room for a month.”

“Tens of thousands of men, women and children are being held against their will in government-run forced labor centers in Vietnam,” said Joe Amon, health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch. “This is not drug treatment, the centers should be closed, and these people should be released.”

International donor support to the centers, and to the Vietnamese government’s Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, which oversees them, can have the perverse impact of enabling the government to continue to detain HIV-positive drug users, Human Rights Watch said. Under Vietnamese law, HIV-positive detainees have a right to be released if drug detention centers cannot provide appropriate medical care.

Click here to read the Human Rights Watch report, ‘the Rehab Archipelago’.

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