At the 9th ICAAP held in Bali, Indonesia this August, Response Beyond Borders (The Asian Consortium on Drug Use, HIV/AIDS and Poverty) held a satellite event on Monday 10th August called 'Reforming Treatment Environments - How to make compulsory drug treatment HIV friendly'.
Mr Christian Kroll, the UNODC Global Coordinator for HIV/AIDS, opened the session by remarking that compulsory drug treatment should not exist at all. He called on regional human rights commissions to start looking into the issue of compulsory drug treatment in Asia and the dire situation of injecting drug users in the region. He suggested that there could be a resolution tabled at the 54th meeting of the Commission of Narcotic Drugs in 2011 regarding the use of compulsory drug treatment and its lack of evidence base and the associated violations of human rights.
Other speakers included Dr Fabio Mesquita (WPRO) who presented findings of the recent WHO report, 'Assessment of compulsory treatment of people who use drugs in Cambodia, China, Malaysia and Viet Nam: An application of selected human rights principles'. He concluded his presented by advising that compulsory drug treatment is a reality and we must engage with it to improve the lives of people in such settings in the short term. Mr RK Raju (Indian Harm Reduction Network) presented the experiences of drug users in custodial setttings in Asia, citing torture, overcrowding, poor nutrition and a lack of access to HIV prevention, treatment and care.
Richard Pearshouse (formerly of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network) made a clear statement that civil society must push for the closure of compulsory treatment centres in the Asia region. Although practices vary between the countries of the region, all such centres violate basic human rights principles. He recommended that minimum standards for treatment must be developed alongside gaining truly informed consent from individuals who enter treatment. Yvonne Sibeau (Indonesian Drug User Solidarity Association) was the final speaker and while highlighting the problems with the existing treatment model in Indonesia, called on the Indonesian goverment not to move to compulsory treatment approach but instead bring treatment in line with internationally recognised standards.