September 7, 2011

Annex 1: Letter to Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs

May 2, 2011

Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan

Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs

12 Ngo Quyen,

Hoan Kiem,

Hanoi

Via facsimile: +(84-4)38241005

Via email: lasic@molisa.gov.vn

Dear Minister,

Human Rights Watch is an international nongovernmental organization that monitors violations of human rights by states and non-state actors in more than 80 countries around the world.

Human Rights Watch is preparing a report regarding the system of compulsory drug treatment centers in Vietnam. These centers are sometimes referred to as “06 centers,” “Centers for Social Education and Labor” (Trung Tam Giao Duc Lao Dong Xa Hoi), “Centers for post-rehabilitation management” ( Trung Tam Quan Ly Sau Cai Nghien) or “treatment and rehabilitation centers.” Our report explores issues of due process, the right to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and forced labor.

Our research to date has documented a number of serious concerns in Vietnamese drug detention centers, including:

  • People are detained in such centers without due process. Detainees have no practical opportunity to access a lawyer, a hearing, or to appeal the decision to detain them.
  • Work in such centers is not optional. According to the laws that govern the operation of Vietnam’s drug detention centers, detainees have a legal obligation to abide by the rules of the center, including work regimes. Center directors are authorized to punish detainees for refusing to work.
  • Labor in the centers is sometimes unpaid or paid at wages below the minimum wage. Centers also levy charges against detainee’s wages for items such as food, accommodation and “managerial fees.” These charges often represent a significant amount and, in some cases, all of detainee’s wages.
  • In many centers, beatings are commonplace. Physical abuse is meted out as punishment for infringements of center rules (including the obligation to work). On occasion, such ill treatment—involving severe beatings of detainees with truncheons or shocks from electric batons—constitutes torture.

We are writing to request descriptive and programmatic information about compulsory drug treatment efforts in Vietnam. Human Rights Watch is committed to producing material that is well-informed and objective. We seek this information to ensure that our report properly reflects the views, policies and practices of the Government of Vietnam regarding the system of compulsory drug treatment.

We hope you or your staff will respond to the attached questions so that your views are accurately reflected in our reporting. In order for us to take your answers into account in our forthcoming report, we would appreciate a written response by May 23, 2011.

In addition to the information requested below, please include any other materials, statistics, and government actions regarding the system of compulsory drug treatment in Vietnam that would be important to understand the system.

Thank you in advance for your time in addressing these urgent matters.

Sincerely,

Joseph J. Amon MSPH PhD

Health and Human Rights Division

Human Rights Watch

We would appreciate any information you can provide regarding the following:

Background and descriptive information

  1. How many government-run drug treatment centers currently operate in Vietnam? Can you provide a listing of the centers, their locations and current residential population? What is their combined capacity?
  2. Does the Government of Vietnam intend to increase the number of drug treatment centers in 2011? How many centers will be operational by the end of the year?
  3. Please provide data for 2010 and (separately) for 2011 – to date, indicating:
    • How many people were detained in government-run drug treatment centers in Vietnam (separated by sex)?
    • How many people under the age of 18 were detained in government-run drug treatment centers in Vietnam?
    • How many people (or what percentage of the total detainee population) were detained on a compulsory basis?

Please provide data for 2010 and (separately) for 2011 – to date, indicating:

  • How many people were detained in government-run drug treatment centers under Ho Chi Minh City administration (separated by sex)?
  • How many people under the age of 18 were detained in government-run drug treatment centers under Ho Chi Minh City administration?
  • How many people (or what percentage of the total detainee population) were detained on a compulsory basis?

Legal and policy framework

  1. On what legal basis are people detained in drug treatment centers in Vietnam? Please specify the provision(s) under Vietnamese law and what legal authority authorizes this detention.
  2. Please specify for 2010 and (separately) for 2011 – to date:
    • The number of individual case files submitted by Ward or Commune-level People’s Committees to District-level People’s Committees in which the Ward or Commune-level People’s Committee recommended detention in a drug treatment center;
    • The number of submitted individual case files (or a percentage of the total) in which the District-level People’s Committees in fact ordered detention in a drug treatment center;
    • The number of individuals who had legal representation during the process of taking the decision to detain them;
    • The number of people who formerly lodged an appeal of the decision to detain them, and the number of these appeals that were successful.
  3. Human Rights Watch understands that children are detained in the same sleeping dormitories as adults in some of the drug treatment centers. Do any centers detain people under age 18 separately from adults? If not, why not? Please provide details about policies and practices for providing treatment, care and support specifically to people under age 18.
  4. Please provide any specific rules, regulations, guidelines, etc. detailing the internal disciplinary regime for infringements of center rules. Specifically:
    • What are the permitted types of discipline for infringements of center rules?
    • Are detainees permitted to discipline fellow detainees?
    • Are forms of corporal punishment permitted by either centre staff or fellow detainees? If so, under what circumstances is corporal punishment used?
    • Can you confirm that electric batons are issued to guards of such centers? What are the policies in place for when such electric batons may be used?
  5. Please specify for 2010 and (separately) for 2011 – to date:
    • The (national government) budget allocation per detainee;
    • For centers under Ho Chi Minh City administration, any additional (e.g. Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor) budget allocations per detainee;
    • The percentage of the total budget allocation per detainee for food expenditures;
    • The percentage of the total budget allocation per detainee for health-related expenditures.

Previous reports of abuse

  1. How are reports of ill-treatment of detainees by center staff or fellow detainees addressed and investigated? What punishment or sanctions are given to those found responsible for ill treatment of detainees?
  2. How many complaints of ill-treatment have been lodged since 2006? In how many cases have complaints been upheld and sanctions imposed? What sanctions were imposed?
  3. Have there been complaints lodged of misuse of or abuse inflicted on detainees by electronic batons? If so, how many? What has been the outcome of the complaints and their investigation?

Labor performed by detainees

  1. Human Rights Watch understands that detainees perform “labor therapy” in the centers. Please explain the scientific evidence, establishing the therapeutic benefit to people dependent on drugs, upon which the practice of “labor therapy” is based.
  2. With respect to “labor therapy” used in centers, please specify for 2010 and (separately) for 2011 – to date:
    • The forms of “labor therapy” used in the centers;
    • The duration of “labor therapy” each day;
    • Any consequences for detainees who refuse to participate in “labor therapy.”
  3. How is the requirement that detainees comply with the labor regime in the centers consistent with the provisions of the Labor law of Vietnam outlawing forced labor?
  4. Please specify for 2010 and (separately) for 2011 – to date:
    • Were detainees required to fulfill certain work quotas and process a certain amount (pieces, kilos, etc.) per day, and what sort of sanctions, if any, are taken against those who do not meet quotas?
    • What is the average wage for detainees performing “labor therapy”?
    • What monthly charges (such as food, accommodation, ‘management fees’, etc.) are levied on detainee wages?
  5. Please specify for 2010 and (separately) for 2011 – to date those companies and private enterprises (Vietnamese or foreign-owned) that have commercial arrangements with the drug detention centers.
  6. For centers since 2006, please list those companies and private enterprises (Vietnamese or foreign-owned) that have exported products produced or manufactured in drug detention centers.
  7. With respect to vocational training (as distinct from “labor therapy”) performed in centers, please specify for 2010 and (separately) for 2011 – to date:
    • The forms of vocational training offered in the centers;
    • The duration of vocational training each day;
    • Any consequences for detainees who refuse to participate in vocational training;
    • Any compensation for detainees performing vocational training, when products are sold commercially.

External involvement

  1. Which external organizations (such as UN agencies, international and/or national NGOs) are currently providing funding support, operating programs or providing services inside government-run drug treatment centers? In which centers do they operate? If funding, how much funding? If running programs or providing services, please specify the nature of these programs and/or services.

Drug treatment

  1. UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that compulsory drug treatment should only be forced on people “in exceptional crisis situations of high risk to self or others” and that treatment should only be mandated for specific conditions and periods of time. Does government policy take into account this recommendation? If so, please indicate how.
  2. What is the Government of Vietnam doing to increase access to voluntary, evidence-based drug treatment provided on an outpatient basis?