September 7, 2011

I. Vietnam’s Drug Detention Centers

Overview

No two drug detention centers in Vietnam are exactly alike. Some are prison-like compounds in major cities, behind high walls topped with barbed wire. Others are sprawling clusters of barracks located in peri-urban industrial zones. Still more resemble expansive agricultural estates in remote border provinces. Regardless of location, all are surrounded by fences or walls and watched over by guards. None provide drug dependency treatment that is humane or effective.

Some centers hold just a few dozen detainees, while some lock up over a thousand. Many hold several hundred detainees. A considerable number of drug detention centers also double as detention centers for sex workers.[4] All rely upon forced labor as “therapy.”

In official government terminology, the centers are referred to as “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 “Centers for Vocational Training and Job Placement” (Co So Day Nghe Va Giai Quyet Viec Lam).[5] Each center is free to adopt a title with a similarly vague and benign meaning, such as “Center for Receiving Social Subjects,” “Center for Labor, Education and Social Sponsorship,” and “School for Vocational Training, Education and Job Placement.”[6]

Official discourse around the centers is also marked by a plethora of euphemisms. Police do not round people up and detain them; rather they are “gathered” (thu gom). Center staff are referred to as “trainers” (quan giao), while detainees themselves are “trainees” (hoc vien). If a detainee has already been detained for two years, he or she becomes a “post rehabilitation person” (nguoi sau cai nghien) undergoing “management, vocational training and job placement for post rehabilitation individuals” (quan ly, day nghe va giai quyet viec lam cho nguoi sau cai nghien).

Drug detention centers form part of a broad system of detention centers for administrative violations in Vietnam. The Ordinance on Handling of Administrative Violations (2002) covers a range of administrative detention systems and provides for the detention of people who use drugs in “medical treatment establishments” [co so chua benh]—yet another official term for drug detention centers—“to labor, [and] to receive education, vocational training and rehabilitation treatment.”[7]

Vietnam’s drug detention centers began to take their current form shortly after the end of the US-Vietnam war in 1975: key components of the approach to drug dependency treatment at that time are still in place.[8] But it would be wrong to view drug detention centers as simply a remnant of earlier Communist ideology in resolving social issues.

Despite a degree of political openness and new social policies associated with doi moi (renovation)—the economic reform program launched in 1986—the drug detention system has expanded rather than contracted in recent years. The Ministry of Labor reports that in 2000 there were 56 centers in Vietnam with capacity to detain 27,000.[9] The number of centers steadily increased. By early 2011, the Ministry of Labor reported there were 123 drug detention centers across Vietnam, holding 40,000 people and with the capacity to hold 70,000.[10] Between 2000 and 2010, around 309,000 people had been detained in Vietnam’s centers.[11]

At the national level, the Ministry of Labor is responsible for coordinating the overall management of the centers and the regulations governing their operation.[12] Direct operation of drug detention centers is undertaken by the provincial-level Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (Department of Labor) or mass organizations such as Ho Chi Minh City’s Volunteer Youth Force (Luc Luong Thanh Nien Xung Phong).[13] Center directors are appointed by the chairperson of the provincial-level People’s Committee, while deputy-directors are appointed by the Department of Labor. The provincial-level Department of Public Security (the police department) is responsible for ensuring the security of the centers and preventing escapes.[14]

While local administration may vary, national laws, regulations, and principles that govern drug detention centers outline the fundamental approach to detention center operations.

Government Policies towards Drug Use

Ideological Underpinnings

Beginning in the mid-1990s, the intensification of a broad campaign against “social evils” triggered frantic legislative activity.[15] The government adopted detailed regulations in an effort to control an array of activities, ranging from sex work to vagrancy to the influence of foreign culture, going so far as to ensure karaoke rooms had transparent glass doors and that advertising signage had larger Vietnamese lettering than foreign language lettering.[16]

In January 1993, the Vietnamese government issued resolutions 05/CP and 06/CP on “the prevention and control of prostitution” and “strengthening the guidance in drug control” respectively.[17] In resolution 06/CP, drug use was described as “opposed to the moral tradition of the nation.” The resolution, in line with the 1989 health law and the 1992 Vietnamese constitution, stated that people dependent on drugs must be compulsorily treated for their dependency.[18]

The Vietnamese government put in place a complex set of laws formalizing the principle of forced treatment for drug dependency. For example:

  • Decree 53/CP of 1994 empowered the chairman of the People’s Committees at the provincial and city levels to impose a range of administrative sanctions against people dependent on drugs, including the authority to “issue a decision to take him or her to a medical treatment center or detoxification center for forcible labor.”[19]
  • The 1995 Ordinance on the Handling of Violations of Administrative Regulations imposed compulsory treatment on people dependent on drugs in specific conditions. It established that, “Frequent drug abusers and prostitutes who have been reprimanded by local authorities and people without showing any repentance shall be sent to medical treatment establishments for treatment, education and manual labor for from three months to one year.”[20]

At the end of 2000, the national Law on Preventing and Combating Narcotic Drugs (the Drugs Law) was adopted, incorporating many elements of the existing legal regime of compulsory drug treatment. The law is still in force.

The Drugs Law establishes that a person dependent on drugs must report his or her dependency to his or her local administration or workplace. He or she has a legal obligation to register for detoxification.[21] What the law calls “opposing or obstructing drug detoxification” is strictly prohibited.[22] Family members of a person dependent on drugs must report their relative’s drug use to local authorities, monitor their relative’s drug use, and “prevent them from illicit drug use or any act that disturbs social order and safety.”[23]

Family members must either assist in home-based detoxification, or

support the competent agency/agencies in sending such addicted family members to a compulsory detoxification institution and contribute funds to cover the cost of detoxification as stipulated by law.[24]

Compulsory detention is mandated for an individual over 18 “who still indulges in his/her drug-taking habit after being subjected to detoxification at home and/or in the local community or educated repeatedly in his/her own commune, urban ward or district township or who has no fixed place of residence.” The duration of “detoxification” is stipulated as being between one and two years.[25]

The law also provides that children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are addicted to drugs can be sent to drug detention centers for between one to two years.[26] Like adults, children must work as part of their detention.[27]

Drug use in Vietnam

Recent research into drug use in Vietnam highlights a relatively widespread use of opiates (primarily heroin) and cannabis, with a smaller but growing use of amphetamine type stimulants.[28] Detainees of drug detention centers are usually young men, most of whom have completed some level of secondary schooling. While the majority are single and were previously living with their parents before their detention, roughly a third are married. A small but significant number of detainees are women and some are children. The overwhelming majority of detainees were using heroin before they were detained.[29]

Until mid-2009, Vietnam’s Penal Code allowed for criminal charges to be brought against people who continued to use drugs after having “been educated time and again and administratively handled through the measure of being sent to compulsory treatment establishments.”[30]

Despite this provision, drug use in Vietnam has historically been an administrative rather than a criminal matter. In 2003, the state-controlled Saigon Times quoted Nguyen Thanh Tai, vice-chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee, explaining: “We do not consider drug addicts as criminals but patients who need help to correct personality shortcomings.”[31]

In June 2009, criminal punishment for drug use was eliminated, reinforcing Vietnam’s approach of administrative penalties.[32] One consequence of this approach is that being held in drug detention centers in Vietnam, unlike detention under criminal procedure law, is not subject to due process and judicial oversight.

Labor is central to the purported “treatment” of people in drug detention centers. According to government regulations, labor therapy [lao dong tri lieu] is one of the official five steps of drug rehabilitation. The centers must “organize therapeutic labor with the aim of recovering health and labor skills for drug addicts.”[33]

The concept of labor therapy comprises an element of moral correction through work; work is used to rectify an individual’s personality after their perceived moral failings of drug use and idleness. Through labor therapy, detainees supposedly learn (or re-learn) the value of honest work. A 2009 Ministry of Labor assessment of the effectiveness of drug treatment in the centers describes labor therapy in the following terms:

At [the labor therapy] stage, the drug addicts are organized into manufacturing activities for [the] restoration of their behaviors and labor skills. Through labor, their behavior and dignity will be restored.[34]

Each center has considerable autonomy in establishing its forms of labor therapy and the income of the centers. The 2009 Ministry of Labor assessment continues:

The Government encourages the centers to create incomes by their own resources and issue policies for them to earn these incomes. These centers are entitled to agricultural land for production, forestry land and workshop[s] for manufacture and equipment and materials for vocational training and creating incomes.[35]
The assessment also notes that, “[a]s profitable administrative units, the centers do not have to pay taxes for their incomes.”[36]

The Ho Chi Minh City Pilot Project

In 2001, Ho Chi Minh City authorities launched a “three reductions” campaign to intensify their fight against three particular “social evils:” drugs, sex work, and crime. As part of the campaign, large numbers of drug users were detained in centers.[37]

By April 2003, official media reported that according to Nguyen Minh Triet, then-secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee and later president of Vietnam, the goal was for all drug users to be brought to centers by 2003, all sex workers by 2004, and all homeless people by 2005.[38]

At the same time, Ho Chi Minh City (and sixother provinces) applied to the National Assembly for permission to extend periods of detention beyond the two years established by the Drugs Law.[39] The proposal was to add “one to two years if necessary, but not longer than three years” of what was referred to as “management, vocational training and job placement for post rehabilitation individuals” (quan ly, day nghe va giai quyet viec lam cho nguoi sau cai nghien).

The proposal was not without opponents in the National Assembly. Official media reported that one member of the National Assembly’s Committee on Social Affairs objected to the proposal on the grounds that extending detention for another two to three years would negatively affect the detainees’ rights to freedom, to residence, and to choose their own job. In a similar vein, the vice chairman of the Legal Committee of the National Assembly observed that forced labor is prohibited under the existing international conventions to which Vietnam is a party.[40]

Despite such objections, the National Assembly approved the proposal in the form of a pilot project over five years.[41] At the start of the pilot project, the Saigon Times explained:

Under the program, after the two-year compulsory detoxification as required by the law, drug addicts must spend an additional two or three years living in a healthy environment to undergo further personal improvement and learn job skills. They are isolated from the drug environment but are not completely detached from the community. They will stay at rehabilitation schools and centers or special industrial parks and work at national construction sites, projects of the Voluntary Youth Force, cooperatives, workshops and production establishments developed by their families or other individuals and businesses.[42]

The Saigon Times described Nguyen Minh Triet as the “mastermind of the program” and quoted him justifying the additional two to three years of detention:

Two years is too short a time, as drug addicts can easily relapse to the habit after they return to the community. Moreover, they can be lured back to drugs because they have no job skills or jobs. Most importantly, we want to have time to make a clean sweep of the drug environment and eliminate drug supply channels so that rehab people can have no access to [drugs] when they return to the community.[43]

A key component of the pilot project involved close collaboration between drug detention centers and private enterprises. During their “management, vocational training and job placement for post rehabilitation individuals” (“post rehabilitation management”), detainees would work in the centers, in industrial zones near the centers, or with businesses located outside the centers. The Saigon Times reported:

Between now and the year's end HCM City will develop two industrial-residential complexes in Nhi Xuan, Hoc Mon district, and An Nhon Tay [commune], Cu Chi district, to attract businesses and provide jobs for post-rehabs. Some VND400 billion (US$ 2 million) will be invested in the 78-hectare Nhi Xuan area, which is expected to start operation next year and to provide jobs for 5,000-6,000 post-rehabs, mainly in the garment, footwear, woodwork, electrical, electronic, mechanical engineering and handicraft sectors. Special incentives will be offered to businesses investing in the [post-rehabilitation] project, such as land rent reduction, preferential credit and tax exemption.[44]

“Post rehabilitation management” was intended for those considered to be at high risk of relapse, which was defined as detainees who had been in centers twice or more, detainees who had been disciplined twice or more, or those without stable family or employment support.[45] The provision that those who had been disciplined twice or more in drug detention centers could be subject to “post rehabilitation management” indicates that the additional detention could be ordered on punitive grounds.

In principle, the decision to detain them for “post rehabilitation management” was to be taken by the chairman of the People’s Committees at the provincial or municipality level.[46] However, in practice, the extension of detention orders was largely an automatic bureaucratic process. Between 2003 and 2008, while the pilot project lasted, at least 30,681 people were detained for the additional two to three years of “post rehabilitation management.”[47] During the same period, just 263 people were allowed to leave the centers without the additional two to three years of detention.[48]

From the point of view of detainees, the system changed very little regardless of whether one was in “rehabilitation” or “post rehabilitation management.” Some detainees were transferred to other centers. The main difference in the lives of detainees was that periods of detention and forced labor were arbitrarily extended: detainees were held for far longer than they had initially understood or (in the case of voluntary admissions) requested. Many detainees told Human Rights Watch that after extension of their detention they simply stayed at the same center performing the same form of labor.

The Ho Chi Minh City Pilot Goes Nationwide

The National Assembly reviewed the results of the pilot project in April 2008. In a glowing report the government claimed that the approach had “opened up a new path of treatment and post rehabilitation recovery for drug addicts.” The government claimed that only six percent of those involved in the pilot project relapsed to drug use.[49]

Again, some National Assembly deputies and official media criticized the project, especially its cost. Ho Chi Minh City reported the pilot project had cost authorities VND1.3 trillion ($75 million). Part of this included VND460 billion ($ 23.5 million) for constructing new centers.[50] Some criticisms went further. For example, one media report noted:

National Assembly deputies also don’t believe that only six percent of rehabilitated people return to drugs. Chairman of the National Assembly Legal Committee Nguyen Van Thuan cited a government report, which said that 70-80 percent of rehabilitated people return to drugs. He emphasized that rehabilitation depends on each addict, not on the compulsory measures at rehabilitation centers.[51]

Despite the debate, Ho Chi Minh City authorities ultimately prevailed and the National Assembly agreed that the approximately 6,000 people detained at that time for “post rehabilitation management” could continue to be detained beyond the project’s end date.[52]

More significantly, the National Assembly amended the Drugs Law to allow one to two years of “post rehabilitation management” at the national level. According to the implementing decree (2009), the additional period of up to two years “post rehabilitation management” can take place either at home (under the supervision of the commune-level People’s Committee) or in a drug detention center.[53] Thus, according to current law, a person can spend up to four years in Vietnam’s drug detention centers.

Similar to the Ho Chi Minh City pilot project, people are to be detained if deemed to be at “high risk of relapse,” i.e., if they fall into any of the following categories:

  1. Have been addicted to drugs for five years or more (or, for injection drug users, for two years or more);
  2. Have already been detained in compulsory drug detention centers three times or more;
  3. Have been warned more than three times or punished by isolation [in a disciplinary room] more than twice for violating the internal rules of drug detention centers; or
  4. Have no occupation, an unstable occupation, or no specific place of residence.[54]

With respect to work, the years spent in “post rehabilitation management” look very similar to the years spent in detention. The 2009 decree provides:

Throughout the duration [of “post rehabilitation management”] at the center, post rehabilitation individuals must comply with the regulations and policies of the center on management, training, education, living, laboring and self-correction [and] must participate in labor and production to cover the cost of their food supplies and living expenses.[55]

Ho Chi Minh City’s Centers

Center

Location

Official name in Vietnamese

Official name in English

Run by

Approx. population (2009)

Binh Trieu

Binh Thinh district, Ho Chi Minh City

Trung Tam Tiep Nhan Doi Tuong Xa Hoi Binh Trieu

Binh Trieu Center for Receiving Social Subjects

Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor

400

Phu Van

Phuoc Long district, Binh Phuoc province

Trung Tam Giao Duc Dong Bao Tro Xa Hoi Phu Van

Phu Van Center for Labor, Education and Social Sponsorship

Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor

800

Phu Nghia

Phuoc Long district, Binh Phuoc province

Trung Tam Giao Duc Lao Dong Xa Hoi Phu Nghia

Phu Nghia Center for Social Education and Labor

Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor

300

Binh Duc

Phuoc Long district, Binh Phuoc province

Trung Tam Cai Nghien Ma Tuy Binh Duc

Binh Duc Drug Rehabilitation Center

Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor

700

Duc Hanh

Phuoc Long district, Binh Phuoc province

Trung Tam Chua Benh Duc Hanh

Duc Hanh Medical Treatment Center

Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor

500

Phu Duc

Bu Gia Map district, Binh Phuoc province

Trung Tam Chua Benh Phu Duc

Phu Duc Medical Treatment Center

Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor

500

Bo La

Phu Giao district, Binh Duong province

Trung Tam Cai Nghien Ma tuy Bo La

Bo La Drug Rehabilitation Center

Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor

600

Phuoc Binh

Long Thanh district, Dong Nai province

Trung Tam Giao Duc Lao Dong Xa Hoi Phuoc Binh

Phuoc Binh Center for Social Education and Labor

Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor

500

Youth Center No. 2

Cu Chi district, Ho Chi Minh City

Trung Tam Giao Duc Day Nghe Thanh Thieu Nien 2

Center for Vocational Training and Education for Youth and Teenagers No. 2

Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor

800

Nhi Xuan

Hoc Mon district, Ho Chi Minh City

Trung Tam Giao Duc, Day Nghe Va Giai Quyet Viec Lam Nhi Xuan

Nhi Xuan Center for Vocational Training and Job Placement

Volunteer Youth Force

850

Center No. 1

Dak Rlap district, Dak Nong province

Truong Giao Duc Dao Tao Va Giai Quyet Viec Lam So 1

School for Education, Vocational Training and Job Placement No. 1

Volunteer Youth Force

500

Center No. 2

Lam Ha district, Lam Dong province

Truong Giao Duc Dao Tao Va Giai Quyet Viec Lam So 2

School for Education, Vocational Training and Job Placement No. 2

Volunteer Youth Force

1000

Center No. 3

Phu Giao district, Binh Duong province

Truong Giao Duc Dao Tao Va Giai Quyet Viec Lam So 3

School for Education, Vocational Training and Job Placement No. 3

Volunteer Youth Force

500

Center No. 4

Tan Uyen district, Binh Duong province

Truong Giao Duc Dao Tao Va Giai Quyet Viec Lam So 4

School for Education, Vocational Training and Job Placement No. 4

Volunteer Youth Force

600

Center No. 5

Tuy Duc district, Dak Nong province

Truong Giao Duc Dao Tao Va Giai Quyet Viec Lam So 5

School for Education, Vocational Training and Job Placement No. 5

Volunteer Youth Force

1000

Center No. 6

Tuy Duc district, Dak Nong province

Truong Giao Duc Dao Tao Va Giai Quyet Viec Lam So 6

School for Education, Vocational Training and Job Placement No. 6

Volunteer Youth Force

500

Some centers are geographically located inside Ho Chi Minh City itself. For example, the Binh Trieu center is on the site of a former Catholic seminary and has existed in various forms since at least 1975.[56] Based on the testimony of former detainees, it appears to be currently used to hold people for relatively short periods of “detoxification” before they are transferred elsewhere.[57]

The large Nhi Xuan center was established in 1994 and is currently used as a showpiece center by Ho Chi Minh City authorities, representing Vietnam’s overall system of drug detention centers to international visitors. It primarily detains those under “post rehabilitation management” and is located in the industrial zone of Hoc Mon district. The Youth Center No. 2 is located in a suburban area of Cu Chi district. Although it is a “Center for Children and Youths,” adults are detained there alongside children, while children are also sent to other centers.

Many of the centers under the administration of Ho Chi Minh City are not located in the city itself, but in provinces such as Lam Dong and Dak Nong (in the Central Highlands), or in Binh Duong, Dong Nai, and Binh Phuoc provinces (in the southeast).[58]

Many of Vietnam’s other provinces have their own centers (under separate provincial administration). In a small number of cases, it appears that drug users from Ho Chi Minh City are sent to centers under the administration of other provinces, for example, the “Centers for Social Education and Labor” in Ninh Thuan province and Long An provinces (in southeast Vietnam).[59]

[4] This report does not purport to cover the similar—although administratively distinct—system of detention centers for sex workers that operates in Vietnam. For a recent discussion of these centers, see Nguyen-vo Thu-huong, The Ironies of Freedom: sex, culture, and neo-liberal governance in Vietnam (University of Washington Press, 2008).

[5] Centers are also referred to as “06 centers,” after the 1993 legislation that gave impetus to the expansion of Vietnam’s system of drug detention centers. The two decrees currently governing drug detention centers are Decree 135/2004, “Prescribing the Regime on Application of the Measures of Consignment to Medical Treatment Establishments, the Organization and Operation of Medical Treatment Establishments under the Ordinance on Handling of Administrative Violations and the Regime Applicable to Minors and Volunteers in Medical Treatment Establishments,” June 10, 2004, and Decree 94/2009/ND-CP, “Regulating in Detail the Implementation of the Law to Amend and Supplement a Number of Articles of the Law on Drug Prevention Regarding Post-Rehabilitation Management,” October 26, 2009.

[6]Trung Tam Tiep Nhan Doi Tuong Xa Hoi,”“Trung Tam Giao Duc Lao Dong Bao Tro Xa Hoi,” and “Truong Giao Duc Dao Tao Va Giai Quyet Viec Lam” respectively.

[7] Ordinance on Handling of Administrative Violations, No. 44/2002/PL-UBTHQH10, July 2, 2002, art. 26(1) [translation by Human Rights Watch]. Under Decree 76 (2003), peaceful dissidents, activists and others deemed threats to national security or public order can be detained in “re-education centers” (Co So Giao Duc). Decree No. 76/2003/ND-CP, “Prescribing and Guiding in Detail the Application of the Measure of Consignment to Re-Education Centers,” June 27, 2003, http://laws.dongnai.gov.vn/2001_to_2010/2003/200306/200306270001_en (accessed May 1, 2011). Amendments to Decree 76 of June 27, 2003 made in December 2008 appear to allow people who use drugs to be detained in re-education centers. See Decree No. 125/2008/ND-CP, “Amending and supplementing some articles of Decree No. 76/2003/ND-CP,” December 11, 2008, http://www.chinhphu.vn/portal/page?_pageid=33,638900&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&docid=81315 (accessed May 1, 2011). See also Mai Huong, “Supplementary stipulations on applying the measures of admission in the education establishments,” undated 2011, Chinh Phu, http://tintuc.xalo.vn/001987716582/Quy_dinh_bo_sung_ve_ap_dung_cac_bien_phap_dua_vao_co_so_giao_duc.html (accessed May 12, 2011) [translation by Human Rights Watch].

[8] Drug users and sex workers were among many people detained in re-education camps established after 1975, along with former officials and military from the Republic of Vietnam. See, for example, P. Limqueco, “Notes on a visit to Vietnam,” Journal of Contemporary Asia, vol. 6(4) 1976, pp. 405-423; R. Templer, Shadows and Wind: A View of Modern Vietnam (Penguin Books, 1998), p. 242. For a description of “re-education through labor” in the Binh Trieu center in Ho Chi Minh City in the late 1970s, see S. Fraser and T. Knight, “Vietnam: Drug Rehabilitation: Whose Problem? A Case Study from Ho Chi Minh City,” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 14(3) 1981, pp. 138-146.

[9]  Ministry of Labor, “Vocational training and job placement for rehab patients,” January 25, 2011, Ministry of Labor website, http://www.molisa.gov.vn/news/detail/tabid/75/newsid/52334/seo/Day-nghe-tao-viec-lam-cho-nguoi-cai-nghien/language/vi-VN/Default.aspx (accessed May 12, 2011) [translation by Human Rights Watch].

[10] Ibid. See also the US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2010: Vietnam,” April 8, 2011, www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/eap/154408.htm (accessed June 6, 2011). The report states under the heading “Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” that “[t]he government reported that more than 33,000 drug users were living in forced detoxification labor camps. The overwhelming majority of these individuals were administratively sentenced to two years without judicial review.”

[11] Ministry of Labor, “Vocational training and job placement for rehab patients.”

[12] Decree 135/2004/ND-CP, June 10, 2004, art. 63.

[13] Ho Chi Minh City’s Volunteer Youth Force is one of many mass organizations in Vietnam. Mass organizations—such as the Women’s Union, the Youth Union, the Farmer’s Union, the Trades Unions, etc.— come under the umbrella of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, the primary function of which is to organize mass support for the Vietnamese Communist Party.

[14] Decree 135/2004/ND-CP, June 10, 2004, arts. 50-62.

[15] Some researchers view the “social evils” campaign of the mid-1990s as an attempt by the Vietnamese Communist Party to protect and bolster Vietnamese “traditional values” against Western “values” after the market liberalization of the doi moi reform process. See, for example, W. Wilcox, “In their Image: the Vietnamese Communist Party, the West and the Social Evils Campaign of 1996,” Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, vol.34(4), pages 15-24.

[16] Decree 87/CP, “On strengthening the management of cultural activities and cultural services and promoting the fight against a number of serious social evils,” December 12, 1995, arts. 23 and 31.

[17] Resolution 05/CP, “On Prevention and Control of Prostitution,” January 29, 1993 and Resolution 06/CP, “On Strengthening Guidance in Drug Control,” January 29, 1993. Vietnam’s drug detention centers are sometimes referred to as “06” centers, while detention centers for sex workers are referred to as “05” centers, based on these two resolutions.

[18] Resolution 06/CP, 29 January 1993, art. (1)(e). The relevant provision in the “Law on People’s Health Protection” June 30, 1989 includes drug dependency as a condition requiring compulsory treatment in medical facilities: art. 29(1). The Constitution of Vietnam (1992) provides that, “The State shall enact regulations on compulsory treatment of drug addiction and treatment of dangerous social diseases.” Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam , art. 61. The 8th National Assembly unanimously approved the constitution at its 11st sitting on April 15, 1992. This is taken from the official translation.

[19] Decree 53/CP, “Providing for Measures to Handle State Officials and Employees and Other Persons Convicted of Acts Related to Prostitution, Drug abuse, Gambling and Drunkenness,” June 28, 1994, art. 9(5).

[20] Ordinance on the Handling of Violations of Administrative Regulations, No. 41/L/TCN, July 6, 1995, art. 24.

[21] Law on Preventing and Combating Narcotic Drugs, 23/2000/QH10, December 9, 2000, art. 26(1)(a).

[22] Ibid., art. 3(6).

[23] Ibid., art. 26(2)(c).

[24] Ibid., art. 26(2)(b) and (d).

[25] Law on Preventing and Combating Narcotic Drugs, 23/2000/QH10, December 9, 2000, art. 28. For individuals entering a center on a voluntary basis, the minimum period is for six months: Decree 135/2004, June 10, 2004, art. 29. Those who volunteer for detoxification at centers are not classified as being administratively sanctioned: art. 28(3).

[26] Children can be sent to drug detention centers if they continue using drugs having already received home and community-based detoxification or repeated education programs in their localities, or if they have no permanent accommodation. Law on Preventing and Combating Narcotic Drugs, No. 23/2000/QH10, December 9, 2000, art. 29. See also Decree 135/2004/ND-CP, June 10, 2004, art. 24.

[27] Decree 135/2004/ND-CP, June 10, 2004, art. 44 states: “Outside of the time spent on education, treatment, adolescent (patients) must participate in therapeutic labor as organized by the Centers for Social Treatment – Education,” [translation by Human Rights Watch].

[28] See V. Nguyen and M. Scannapieco, “Drug abuse in Vietnam: a critical review of the literature and implications for future research,” Addiction, vol. 103 (2008) pp. 535-543; R. Ray, “Commentary: National drug abuse situation in Vietnam- how accurate are the projections?,” Addiction, vol. 103 (2008) pp. 544-545.

[29] A government report profiling the detainees in Ho Chi Minh City centers in 2007 states that 92.3 percent were male and 7.7 percent were female. 88.7 percent were aged between 18 and 35 and 3.49 percent were aged under 18. 47.8 percent had completed middle schooling, while 21.6 percent had completed high school. 99 percent were heroin users. See Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, “Report to the National Assembly on the result of five years’ implementation of Decree No. 16/2003/QH11 on ‘Post rehab monitoring, vocational training and job placement’,” May 5, 2008, appendix 2b [translation by Human Rights Watch].

[30] Penal Code of Vietnam, No. 15/99/QH10, December 21, 1999, art. 199(1). Those who still relapsed were liable for imprisonment from two to five years: art. 199(2).

[31] Quoted in “A Chance To Rebuild Their Life,” Saigon Times Magazine, November 6, 2003.

[32] Law Amending and Supplementing a Number of Articles of the Penal Code, No. 37/2009/QH12, June 19, 2009.

[33]The five official stages are: 1. Admission and sorting; 2. Treatment for withdrawal, the impact of detoxification and opportunistic infection; 3. Education and counseling to rehabilitate behaviors and personality;4. Labor therapy and vocational training; 5. Preventing and fighting against relapse, preparing for community reintegration. See Interministrial Circular 41/2010/TTLT-BLDTBXH-BYT, “Guiding the Process of Rehabilitation for Drug Addicts at the Centers for Social Education and Labor for Voluntary Rehabilitation Treatment,” issued by the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Health, dated December 31, 2010, art. 2 [translation by Human Rights Watch].

[34] Ministry of Labor, “Assessment of effectiveness of treatment for drug addiction and preventative measures, care and treatment for HIV/AIDS at Centers for Treatment-Education-Social Labor in Vietnam,” 2009, p. 63. Copy on file with Human Rights Watch.

[35] Ibid., pp. 65-66.

[36] Ibid., p. 66.

[37]“HCM City will gather 20,000 addicts for rehab treatment,” Vietnam Express, February 16, 2002, http://vnexpress.net/gl/phap-luat/2002/02/3b9b9275/ (accessed May 12, 2011) [translation by Human Rights Watch] .

[38] “Ho Chi Minh City continues bringing IDUs/DUs into 06 centers,” Tuoi Tre, April 19, 2003.

[39] The other provinces were Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Binh Duong, Hanoi, Long An, Quang Ninh, and Tay Ninh.

[40] Cited in Ngia Nhan, “Ho Chi Minh City proposes to manage post rehab patients in centers,” Vietnam Express, April 24, 2003, http://vnexpress.net/gl/xa-hoi/2003/04/3b9c72c8/ (accessed May 12, 2011) [translation by Human Rights Watch].

[41] National Assembly’s Resolution No.16/2003/QH11,“On the pilot management and vocational education of, and job creation for, detoxified persons in Ho Chi Minh City and a number of other provinces and centrally run cities,” June 17, 2003.

[42] “A Chance To Rebuild Their Life,” Saigon Times Magazine, November 6, 2003.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Decree 146/2004/ND-CP, “Stipulating the Procedures and Authority to Issue the Decision of Taking the Post Rehab Individuals into the Establishments for Management, Vocational Training and Job Placement,” July 19, 2004, art. 5(1).

[46] Decree 146/2004/ND-CP, July 19, 2004, art. 3.

[47] The figure is taken from the Report to the National Assembly and is likely incomplete since it is dated from mid-2008, not the end of the year. See “Report to the National Assembly on the result of five years’ implementation of Decree No. 16/2003/QH11 on ‘Post rehab monitoring, vocational training and job placement’,” May 5, 2008, appendix 2A [translation by Human Rights Watch].

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid., section III, para. 1. The figure of 6 percent was also reported widely in official media at the time. See, for example, “Deputy PM emphasizes vocational training for ex-addicts,” Thanh Nien News, April 14, 2008, http://www.thanhniennews.com/2008/Pages/200841411927037646.aspx (accessed July 28, 2011).

[50] “Report to the National Assembly on the result of five years’ implementation of Decree No. 16/2003/QH11 on “Post rehab monitoring, vocational training and job placement,” May 5, 2008, Section II, part 1.

[51] “City to end post-drug rehabilitation programme,” Vietnam Net, April 24, 2008 http://english.vietnamnet.vn/social/2008/04/780042/ (accessed July 28, 2011).

[52] The extension was legalized under National Assembly Resolution 16/2008/NQ-QH12, on May 3, 2008. See also Huong LeTuyet Nhung, “Drug addicts: criminals or patients?” Thanh Nien News, May 17, 2008 http://www.thanhniennews.com/2008/Pages/2008517113642038597.aspx (accessed July 28, 2011).

[53] Decree 94/2009/ND-CP, “Regulating in detail the implementation of the Law to Amend and Supplement a Number of Articles of the Law on Drug Prevention Regarding Post-Rehabilitation Management,” October 26, 2009, art. 33.

[54] Decree 94/2009/ND-CP, October 26, 2009, art. 17(1) [translation by Human Rights Watch].

[55] Ibid., art. 26 [translation by Human Rights Watch].

[56] In 1981, there were reportedly three main centers in Ho Chi Minh City, including Ho Chi Minh City’s “Drug Addiction Reform Center,” opened under Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Veterans and Social Welfare in November 1975 in Binh Trieu. See S. Fraser and T. Knight, “Vietnam: Drug Rehabilitation: Whose Problem? A Case Study from Ho Chi Minh City,” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 14(3) 1981, pp. 138-146.

[57] Human Rights Watch interviews with Lang Giang, Xuan Truong, Thach An, Trung Khanh, Quy Hop, Can Loc, Huong Son, Thai Hoa, Kinh Mon, Que Phong, Khoai Chau, Con Cuong, and Dinh Lap, Ho Chi Minh City, 2010.

[58] Note that a Volunteer Youth Force order in January 2011 describing the re-organization of entities under its administration describes four centers, not six: Centre No. 1 (Tuy Duc district, Dak Nong province), Center No. 2 (Lam Ha district, Lam Dong province), Center No. 3 (Phu Giao district, Binh Duong province) and the Nhi Xuan center (Hoc Mon district, Ho Chi Minh City). It may be that some centers under Volunteer Youth Force administration have been merged in 2011. See Volunteer Youth Force, Order No. 41/TNXP-TC, “Regarding Allocation of Competitive Units Among Affiliated Agencies in 2011,” January 18, 2011, para. 2 [translation by Human Rights Watch].

[59] Human Rights Watch interviews with Huu Lung and Cam Khe, Ho Chi Minh City, 2010.