HCLU video - 'Abuse in the name of treatment, drug detention centres in Asia'

20 September 2010

In this video, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) calls for the closure of drug detention centres in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and China. The film documents the rampant human rights abuses in these centres.

According to estimations, hundreds of thousands of people are kept in compulsory drug detention centres in Vietnam, China, Thailand and Laos. It is easy to get in to one of these centres. Some people enter voluntarily in the hope of kicking their drug habit, others are sent there by their families who pay for their “treatment”. But in some cities, it often happens that the military police just collect street children, drug users, sex workers and other groups on the street considered “deviant” by the authorities and detains them in a camp for years, without any due process or right of appeal.

It’s easy to get in – but it’s hard to get out. Detainees are often subject to forced labour, starvation, beatings, torture and raped – while they do not get any treatment or rehabilitation. When they finally leave the camps, they feel more disintegrated from society than before. The vast majority of detainees who leave the camps start to use drugs again or engage in other illegal activities. The governments of Laos, Cambodia and Thailand received millions of dollars from Western governments to build camps to treat dependent drug users. Tax payers in donor countries usually did not know what practices were used in the camps before Human Rights Watch documented the widespread human rights abuses (see for instance, 'Skin on the cable', 'Where darkness knows no limits' or 'An unbreakable cycle').

One of the centres – Koh Kor – was closed thanks to human rights advocacy but too many centres are still in operation. HCLU, along with international organisations such as UNAIDS or UNODC, is calling for the closure of these camps. We hope, after watching our new film, that more people will join us and put pressure on these governments to stop abuse in the name of drug treatment.

Watch the video.