Torture in private 'rehab’ centres: Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture


Torture in private 'rehab’ centres: Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

17 May 2021

Across the world, thousands of people who use drugs are forcibly interned in private drug treatment centres, and subject to drug treatment against their will. From India to Guatemala to Brazil, a range of horrifying abuses are routinely reported to take place in these facilities, including inappropriate medical treatment, protracted solitary confinement, forced labour, sexual violence, and beatings, sometimes leading to death.

In this submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, IDPC draws on empirical evidence from across the world to identify four systemic drivers of torture and ill-treatment in private drug treatment centres.

  • The stigmatisation and criminalisation of people who use drugs, which fuel abuses, and act as an impediment to accountability;
  • The prevalence of compulsory drug treatment programmes;
  • The absence of a range of affordable, evidence-based, and rights-compliant drug treatment services provided by public authorities; and
  • The systematic lack of public mechanisms to authorise and monitor private centres, and to investigate and provide redress for abuses.

In order to fulfil their international human rights law obligation to prevent torture and ill- treatment, states must address these drivers. This includes decriminalising people who use drugs, and ensuring that organisations of people who use drugs participate in the creation and oversight of regulatory frameworks for private drug treatment centres.