Over the last three decades in response to a rise in substance use in the region, many countries in East and Southeast Asia responded by establishing laws and policies that allowed for compulsory detention in the name of treatment for people who use drugs. These centers have recently come under international scrutiny with a call for their closure in a Joint Statement from United Nations entities in March 2012. The UN's response was a result of concern for human rights violations, including the lack of consent for treatment and due process protections for compulsory detention, the lack of general healthcare and evidence based drug dependency treatment and in some centers, of forced labor and physical and sexual abuse.
A few countries have responded to this call with evidence of an evolving response for community-based voluntary treatment; however progress is likely going to be hampered by existing laws and policies, the lack of skilled human resource and infrastructure to rapidly establish evidence based community treatment centers in place of these detention centers, pervasive stigmatization of people who use drugs and the ongoing tensions between the abstinence-based model of treatment as compared to harm reduction approaches in many of these affected countries.
Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert.