Drug Addicts Forced Into 'Sweatshops' by Vietnam 'Treatment Centers'

Human Rights Group Investigates Labor Therapy

An international human rights group has urged the Vietnamese government to cease “Labor Therapy"– a drug rehabilitation program that forces drug addicts into “treatment centers” where they are made to carry out various manual labor tasks.

In a report released by Human Rights Watch of New York City, “Forced labor and physical abuse are not an adjunct to drug dependency treatment in Vietnam,” the report says. “Rather, they are central to how the centers operate.”

Human Rights Watch report suggests that labor therapy in Hanoi, Vietnam is nothing more than a sweatshop in a “help-them-get-back-on-their-feet” disguise.

The report gathered information from 34 people who were detained as part of the program. Findings say that addicts are paid little or nothing for their work and are subject to various abuse including beatings, electric shocks and solitary confinement.

The system is promoted as a way for addicts to restore dignity and learn the value of work, but the focus of the centers is to make money, not to treat drug addiction, the report says.

Relapse rates, it notes, are often above 80 percent. The report quotes one former detainee as saying that the only attempt at rehabilitation was marching and chanting slogans like “Try your best to quit drugs!”

"People who are dependent on drugs in Vietnam need access to community-based, voluntary treatment," Joe Amon, health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch in New York, said in a statement. "Instead, the government is locking them up, private companies are exploiting their labor and international donors are turning a blind eye to the torture and abuses they face."