October 11, 2011

Key Recommendations

To the Lao Government

  • Instruct the Lao Commission on Drug Control to release current detainees in Somsanga, as their continued detention cannot be justified on legal or health grounds.
  • Instruct the Lao Commission on Drug Control to permanently close Somsanga.
  • Carry out prompt, independent, thorough investigations into allegations of arbitrary detention and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in Somsanga.
  • Stop the arbitrary arrest of people who use drugs and other “undesirables” such as homeless people, beggars, street children, and people with mental disabilities.
  • Instruct the Ministry of Health and other relevant ministries and departments to expand access to voluntary, community-based drug dependency treatment and ensure that such treatment is medically appropriate and comports with international standards.

To UNODC, Bilateral Donors, and International Organizations Providing Assistance to Somsanga

  • Publically call for:
    • The closure of Somsanga
    • An investigation into the allegations of human rights violations occurring inside Somsanga
    • Holding those responsible for any violations to account
    • Appropriate remedy for detainees and former detainees for any harm to their physical and mental health sustained while in detention.
  • Review any funding, programming, and activities that support the operation of Somsanga to ensure that no funding is being used to implement policies or programs that violate international human rights law, such as the prohibitions on arbitrary detention, and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • For those donors funding capacity building projects on drug dependence treatment for drug detention center staff, cease such projects immediately.
  • Support the expansion of voluntary, community-based drug dependency treatment, including appropriate services for women and children.