Call to shut down drug centres in Vietnam

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for the immediate closure of more than 100 government-run drug detention centres in Vietnam, describing them as "little more than forced labour camps".

"The reason Vietnam has expanded its drug detention system is profit, not treatment," Joe Amon, director of HRW's health and human rights division, told IRIN.

According to a HRW report released on 7 September, there has been an alarming expansion of Vietnam's "labour therapy" system over the past decade. This is not confined to numbers, but also the length of detention. The centres' collaboration with private companies has also become more systematised, the report says.

As products made by detainees are likely to enter foreign markets, HRW urged international donors to review their funding programmes and monitoring mechanisms. Tim de Meyer, a senior labour specialist with the International Labour Organization, stressed that structural reform was also important, adding that it had started working with the Vietnamese government on a range of labour issues, including the system of arbitrary detention. More than 300,000 people have passed through the centres from 2000 to 2010, HRW says.