September 7, 2011

Annex 2: Template of Letters to Companies

[Date]

[Address]

Via facsimile:

Via email:

Dear [Chief Executive Officer of Company],

I am writing to you in reference to research Human Rights Watch is conducting on human rights abuses in Vietnamese drug detention centers. These centers—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”—hold individuals suspected of drug dependency on a compulsory basis without due process protections or judicial oversight for periods of up to five years. Detainees in drug detention centers may be required to comply with a work regime, and in a number of centers that work regime includes the processing/manufacturing of [product].

In the course of our research, Human Rights Watch has received information that in one such center, [center name, center name in Vietnamese] in [location], [product] was processed/manufactured by the center’s detainees for your company. We have also received information that forced labor and other abuses, including beatings of detainees, are occurring within the center.

We are contacting you to provide you information on the findings of our investigation and to ask you for information on [the company’s] history and current practice of production in Vietnam.

To provide you with an overview, 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.

Specifically, in relation to [the company’s] operations in Vietnam we would be grateful for the following information:

  • Whether [the company] currently or previously has had commercial arrangements with the drug detention centers for the processing/manufacturing of [product].

If so:

  • What is or was the contractual basis by which your products are processed/manufactured (e.g., as a contract between [the company] and the center(s), a contract between [the company] and specific government departments or agencies, a sub-contract with a third party, or some other commercial arrangement).
  • The scale of [the company’s] production in Vietnamese drug detention centers, including, for each center: the total number and type of product produced for each of the years 2006-2011.
  • The quality control mechanisms in place and specifically whether [the company’s] personnel (or quality control sub-contractors employed by [the company]) visit drug detention centers in Vietnam.
  • Methods by which [the company] monitors labor conditions involved in the processing or production of your products.
  • The existence of any records or reports detailing labor violations and other concerns about the treatment of workers in drug detention centers in Vietnam, whether written by [the company] staff, Vietnam government agencies, or other organizations/sub-contractors. Specifically:
    • has [the company] established whether workers in such centers are free to leave such centers?
    • has [the] established whether people in such centers work on a voluntary basis?
    • has [the company] established the details of conditions of work, including health and safety considerations, under which people are working in such centers?
    • has [the company] established whether workers in the centers are subject to physical or mental abuse by supervisors or center staff?
  • Please provide information on how wages are calculated (e.g., based upon hourly/daily rates or by unit (kilos or pieces)), the average monthly wage for workers producing or manufacturing products for [the company] in drug detention centers, and the corresponding average number of hours worked or kilos produced for that wage. Other than pay, are workers rewarded with any other sort of benefits?
  • Are employees required to process a certain amount/number of kilos or pieces per day, and what sort of sanctions, if any, are taken against those who do not meet quotas? Are workers punished for not meeting such production targets by provisions such as withdrawal of food or family visitation privileges, etc.?
  • Please provide information on any center-levied charges deducted from detainee wages while processing or producing products for [the company].
  • What measures are taken to ensure that there is adequate ventilation, provision of masks and gloves, and medical care for workers who may encounter respiratory problems or other health issues as a result of processing/manufacturing [product]?

We appreciate your attention to this issue and your willingness to provide us the information we have requested above. Any responses or comments you wish to make will be reflected in our reporting and we may publish these responses, and this request, in full. In order for us to take your answers into account in our forthcoming report, we would appreciate a written response by [three to four weeks from the send date].

Sincerely,

Joseph J. Amon, PhD, MSPH

Health and Human Rights Division

Human Rights Watch