ILLUS When we resist, officers hit us with 1-metre long wooden truncheons

The Committee to Protect Vietnamese Workers welcomes the UN Special Rapporteur’s statement “I wholeheartedly support the closure of the rehabilitation centres” at his press briefing in Hanoi on 05th December. Mr. Anand Grover’s call adds to calls by CPVW and others for the so-called drug-rehab camps to be closed not only because they are “ineffective and counterproductive” and they “violate [detainees’] right to health”, as Mr. Anand confirmed, but also they are forced-labor factories profiting the Vietnamese authorities, as Human Rights Watch uncovered in its 07th September 2001 report “Rehab Archipelago”.

We call on donors to these forced-labor centres to stop giving aid which legitimises and supports the camps, and to redirect aid to alternatives which do not involve detention or forced labor.


We note that the Australian government acknowledged, in a letter dated 06th October to us, that “drug detention centres are ineffective in the treatment of people who inject drugs .. The Australian Government is continuing to urge Vietnam to close these centres”, but made the fine and impractical distinction that “Our [aid] programs help the people in the centres, not the centres themselves”. The Vietnamese authorities do not seem to share this fine distinction, having built more camps – from 56 in 2001 to 123 today, housing 40,000. Human Rights Watch, in its above report, wrote that by giving aid, donors assist the Vietnamese authorities to keep victims in the camps for longer and profit from their forced labor.

We support Australian MP Chris Hayes’s call to Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd in his 29th September 2011 letter asking him “to conduct further investigations into drug rehabilitation centres in Vietnam and whether they have been disguised as forced labor centres.”


1) Human Rights Watch’s 127-page report “Rehab Archipelago”, dated 7th September 2011

2) 4-page doc highlight of above, by CPVW

3) Letters by AusAID and MP Chris Hayes: Please contact us to obtain copies

4) Media Release on 05th December Hanoi briefing by UN Special Rapporteur:

(Emphases are CPVW’s)


UN independent expert urges Viet Nam to close down compulsory rehabilitation centres for drug users and sex workers

HANOI (5 December 2011) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, concluded his mission to Viet Nam today by stressing that detention and compulsory treatment of injecting drug users and female sex workers in the so-called rehabilitation centres violate their right to health.

“Detainees are denied the right to be free from non-consensual treatment as well as the right to informed consent in all medically related decisions”, he said. Calling the practices “ineffective and counterproductive”, the UN independent expert underscored that the centres perpetuate stigmatization and discrimination of those groups in the society, impede the Government’s HIV/AIDS efforts and have proven futile in reducing drug use and sex work, their stated objective.

“I wholeheartedly support the closure of the rehabilitation centres”, said Mr Grover, “it is essential to ensure that the considerable resources now invested in these centres are used instead to expand alternative treatments for injecting drug users”. In that context, he commended the Government on initiating a number of pilot methadone and community-based programmes, which “are less costly and more effective in reducing drug use and facilitating the reintegration of injecting drug users back into the society”.

The Special Rapporteur further underlined that participation of affected populations in health decision-making was an essential component of the right to health, and encouraged the Government of Viet Nam to empower its people, including vulnerable groups, to actively participate in formulating and implementing all decisions concerning their health.

The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to help States, and others, promote and protect the right to the highest attainable standard of health (right to health). Anand Grover (India) is co-founder and Director of the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit and the Senior Counsel in India.

(*) Read the full end-of-mission statement by the Special Rapporteur: