October 11, 2011

I. Somsanga Center

You can’t compare it to outside. [In Somsanga] you have no freedom.
—Pueksapa, who spent nine months in the center[3]

The Somsanga center is a large complex of concrete buildings, situated on land that slopes gently downhill from an entrance gate guarded by police. Most visitors to the center are shown the “upper buildings”: the Somsanga clinic and the dormitories nearby where patients can stay if their parents or relatives are willing to pay monthly fees of between approximately US$40 to $60.[4]

The “upper buildings” are still located inside the barbed wire fence that runs around the perimeter of the center. Police guard the gate to the center, and some detainees in the “upper buildings” are held there against their will.[5] Nevertheless, those in the “upper buildings” have food brought from their relatives and long periods outside their rooms each day.

This experience is for the lucky few. Further inside Somsanga center, downhill, is what former detainees refer to as the “lower buildings,” two distinct compounds that sit behind high walls topped with barbed wire. Inside, hundreds and sometimes over a thousand detainees languish in overcrowded cells.

Management staff from the center reported that in mid-2011 there were 1,087 detainees.[6] The Lao Commission on Drug Control has reported that, between 2003 and 2009, the detainee population in Somsanga has fluctuated between 1,100 to 2,600 detainees per year.[7] Of the 4,151 people who were held in Somsanga in the three years between 2008 and 2010, 233 (or around 6 percent) were female.[8]

Maesa, who spent six months in Somsanga, estimated that when she was detained there were about 50 people staying in the “upper buildings” and some 750 people in the “lower buildings.” She explained the difference between these two parts of Somsanga:

The upper buildings are very comfortable and good. The people in the upper level are rich: the families provide money to the center. The people in the lower buildings don’t pay. They are poor people who have no money for medicine—or if they have a little money for medicine, they have no money to stay in the clinic. In the lower buildings, the food is bad and dirty, showers are only for a short time, all day they ring the bell so it’s time to go back to the cells. The lower buildings are very tense: you have to follow lots of rules. In the lower buildings, people are suffering, [figuratively] suffocating. [9]

The center’s management staff classified the overwhelming majority (around 93 percent) of total detainees between 2008 and 2010 as users of amphetamine type stimulants.[10] Methamphetamine (commonly known as ya ba or ya ma, an amphetamine type stimulant) has been a commonly used drug in Lao PDR since at least 2000.[11] Fueled by low prices and widespread availability, UNODC estimated that 1.4 percent of the population aged between 15 and 64 has used methamphetamine at least once in the last year.[12]

The Lao government and some international donors have responded to this widespread methamphetamine use by building closed centers to meet purported “treatment” needs. Some staff members of international organizations, familiar with drug issues in Lao PDR, explained that in their opinion, the impetus to build such centers came from particular international donors rather than the Lao government itself. One staff member of an international organization, familiar with drug issues in Lao PDR, explained:

External donors are encouraging Lao PDR to continue to build and run these [drug detention] centers. Eight new centers were built with external funding over the last few years. In my experience, Lao decision makers know very well the limitations of these centers: even if the compulsory—or “voluntary”—centers were full, it would take them many years to “treat” all amphetamine users. They know about the high relapse rate [after release].[13]

As of mid-2011, there were at least eight such centers across the country, of which Somsanga is the oldest and largest. Additional centers are in Champasak province (supported by Thailand), Savanakhet (supported by the US), Oudomxay (supported by China), Luang Prabang (supported by Japan), and Bokeo (supported by the US). Two centers are located in Sayaburi (supported by Brunei).[14] The Lao Commission on Drug Control ultimately oversees all these centers.

Somsanga is often portrayed as a “rehabilitated” detention center. Somsanga’s first buildings were constructed in 1996 and the facility was initially under the authority of the Ministry of Public Security.[15] UNODC’s website states that it has been supporting Somsanga since this date.[16] According to UNODC correspondence with Human Rights Watch, the center used to be the “Somsanga Correctional Center,” although it is unclear whether it was originally a prison, reformatory, or other type of detention center. From 2001 to 2003, UNODC supported the construction of a health clinic beside this building with funding from the US government.[17] UNODC notes on its website that “the [Somsanga] facility has recently undergone a significant shift from its role as a law enforcement institution towards a health-oriented facility.”[18]

It is a description frequently echoed in official Lao media.[19] In May 2005 the official Lao press agency KPL described Somsanga as the “pilot center” of a UNODC capacity building project:

The project is executed by UNODC, with the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision (LCDC) as its counterpart agency, and the US Government supporting with USD167,000 funding…. Over the past 12 months, the project saw several milestones and achievements. The 180 degree transformation of Somsanga Rehabilitation Centre is one good example.[20]

Similarly, in April 2010, the Vientiane Times described the center as a “former detention center.” Yet a closer reading of the same article reveals that Somsanga has not undergone the “significant” shift that it, or its supporters, contends. The story continues:

After medical treatment, patients will be transferred to the male or female compounds to undergo a rehabilitation period of 6 to 12 months, or up to 2 or 3 years for recidivists. The number of police guards has been reduced to a minimum who are assisted by a team of trusted patients in cases of escape. Guards in plain clothes stay among the patients and talk with them in a friendly atmosphere. Still, about one patient manages to run away every month.[21]

International Support

Somsanga’s supposed reformation is largely explained as a consequence of international donor support. Since at least 2001, donors and implementing organizations have generously supported the center by constructing buildings, providing training in rehabilitation services, and supporting services in Somsanga.

In July 2011, Human Rights Watch wrote to 10 donors and implementers who have reportedly funded or implemented programs in Somsanga drug detention center. By the time this report went to print, Human Rights Watch had received no response from four of those donors: the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the US Embassy in Vientiane, the Japanese Embassy in Vientiane, and the Australian Embassy in Vientiane.[22]

Six donors and implementers did respond to Human Rights Watch’s correspondence, including UNODC, the German Embassy in Vientiane, the German Development Agency (DED, now GIZ), the Singaporean Embassy in Vientiane, the Singapore International Foundation (SIF), and the EU delegation to Lao PDR.[23]

One of the 10 donors and implementers contacted by Human Rights Watch—the European Union delegation to Lao PDR— wrote to Human Rights Watch to clarify that the EU does not finance any projects in Somsanga, nor are such projects planned.[24]

While the exact content of the other five responses received by Human Rights Watch varied, the organizations tended to provide a number of similar responses: all denied any awareness of reports of human rights abuses in the center, and none identified any specific reporting mechanisms for human rights abuses experienced by detainees or witnessed by project staff in the course of implementing the projects.

Building Infrastructure

Human Rights Watch wrote to donors reportedly involved in the building of infrastructure at Somsanga seeking (among other information) details on any support for the construction of new, or renovation of existing, physical infrastructure in Somsanga.

In correspondence to Human Rights Watch, UNODC responded that it has supported the construction of various buildings in the Somsanga center with funds from the US government. As noted above, by the time this report went to print Human Rights Watch had received no response from the US Department of State’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, or the US Embassy in Vientiane.

From 2001 to 2003, UNODC supported the construction of a health clinic beside the existing detention center. The $145,786 in funding for this project came from the US government.[25] UNODC’s deputy executive director explained:

The health center was constructed outside of, what at the time used to be referred to as ‘the Somsanga Correctional Centre’, which was then under jurisdiction of the police… The Somsanga Correctional Centre was transferred to the responsibility of the Vientiane Municipality in 2004 and renamed the Somsanga Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center.[26]

In an article to mark International Day against Drug Abuse (June 26) in 2002, the Vientiane Times cited the head of the [then] National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision (NCDCS, now the Lao Commission on Drug Control, or LCDC) as stating that the NCDCS and UNDCP (United Nations Drug Control Program, the forerunner of UNODC), supported by the US government, had recently opened a treatment and rehabilitation facility at Somsanga.[27]

There are also reports linking Japanese assistance to the center in 2002.[28] The official Lao press agency KPL reported that construction of the “drug addiction treatment block” in Somsanga was supported by UNODC, the US Embassy, and the Japanese Embassy.[29]

More recently, the US Embassy has continued to support the expansion and renovation of buildings within the center. On February 8, 2008, the US ambassador to Lao PDR opened a new women’s rehabilitation facility in Somsanga, funded by the embassy.[30]

In 2009-2010, the US Embassy again funded construction in Somsanga, this time of two new buildings for male detainees with a combined capacity for some 150 detainees.[31] In correspondence with Human Rights Watch, UNODC’s deputy executive director also noted:

In 2009, UNODC funded renovation of Somsanga treatment center building and facilities, including renovation of a dormitory for young men in order for young residents to be housed in separate dormitory from adults. UNODC does not support the construction of new centers in Lao PDR.

The UNODC correspondence notes that this renovation was “to meet basic standards of hygiene and comfort and to separate young residents from adults” and cost $95,200.[32]

The US Embassy’s public invitations for bids for contractors to carry out construction work at Somsanga have specifically included building fences.[33]

Support for Activities in Somsanga

In response to Human Rights Watch correspondence, UNODC confirmed it has supported activities to build the capacity of the center’s staff and to provide services in Somsanga. UNODC’s deputy executive director noted that the agency’s support to the Lao government between 2004 and 2006 included drug counseling training for staff at Somsanga.[34]

From 2008 to mid-2011 UNODC implemented a (separate) project whose goal was to “provide a suitable basic setting for drug detoxification and rehabilitation and to implement vocational training activities.”[35] Support totaled $242,837, funded by the US Department of State’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.[36]

In its correspondence with Human Rights Watch, UNODC’s deputy executive director noted that staff from Somsanga center participated in seminars and trainings on drug dependence treatment organized by UNODC’s regional office in Bangkok.[37]

UNODC has also partnered with the Singapore-based NGO, the Singapore International Foundation, in a three-year project (2009-2011) to train Somsanga staff and others in drug dependency treatment.[38] According to SIF, the aim of this project was:

[T]o train Lao officers working with recovering addicts in addressing the psychosocial aspects of addiction recovery. This approach encourages and equips them with skills to adopt a mindset of respecting the human dignity of each recovering addict and the value of mobilizing support networks, such as the family, in the addict’s recovery.[39]

In SIF’s response to Human Rights Watch’s enquiries, the executive director noted that six trainings took place over three years (2009-2011). The project also involved a study tour to Singapore in 2010.[40]

In addition to building staff capacity, UNODC has implemented a project on vocational training project in Somsanga, partnering with the German Development Service (DED), now the German Agency for International Development (GIZ).[41] Each year from 2009-2011, DED placed two volunteers at Somsanga.[42] In its correspondence with Human Rights Watch, GIZ described the main activities of these volunteers as “English teaching, IT-support for PC-lab, sports and gymnastics in a room furnished by the German Embassy, [and] support of skills training (wood works, printing, tailoring, and motorbike repair).”[43]

The US State Department’s 2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) noted that:

One of the more successful efforts using [the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs] funding has been an innovative occupational therapy program at the Somsanga Drug Treatment Center operated in cooperation with UNODC. Several hundred previously idle youth in the rehabilitation section are now busy with a variety of training activities.[44]

In its correspondence with Human Rights Watch in mid-August 2011, UNODC noted:

The most recent project activities, which were completed at the end of July 2011, were expansion of vocational training, occupational therapy opportunity and training on drug counseling. At this moment, UNODC has no ongoing activities at the Somsanga Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre. [45]

However, as recently as April 2011, UNODC in Lao PDR publically advertised for the position of an “international project assistant at Somsanga drug treatment and rehabilitation center.” Listed tasks for the position included, among others, “[i]mprov[ing] the existing drug rehabilitation service and strengthen[ing] the overall capacity of the Somsanga Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Vientiane.”[46]

Other international donors have provided support to Somsanga. The official Lao press agency reported in mid-2010 that the Australian government had given $9,300 “to improve the library” of the Somsanga center.[47] By the time this report went to print, Human Rights Watch had not received a response to its correspondence to the Australian ambassador in Vientiane.

In a response to Human Rights Watch, the ambassador of Singapore to Lao PDR noted that the Singaporean Embassy had supported the construction of a one-story building for a motorbike repair center in Somsanga, as well as equipment and trainers. The Singaporean Embassy helped raise $22,500 for the project. According to the ambassador, the support was “aimed at providing the young people at the Rehabilitation Center [with] a skill to help them become useful citizens of society.”[48]

In addition to the GIZ project discussed above, a chargé d’affaires at the German Embassy in Vientiane noted that in 2009 the embassy paid for the installation of gymnasium equipment in Somsanga “in an effort to supplement drug withdrawal treatments and to improve living conditions of former drug addicts.” The correspondence stated that this support cost $10,000.[49]

The head of the EU delegation to Lao PDR replied to Human Rights Watch’s enquiry:

I can now inform you that the EU does not finance any programmes supporting the Somsanga Drug Detention Center, nor are any programmes currently planned…. We are aware that there is a growing drug problem among young people in Laos and this has been reflected in the increasing numbers admitted to the Somsanga center, but we have not heard of any cases of abuse in Somsanga as outlined in your letter. However given the serious nature of the allegations, we will enquire with the government and with donor partners, and if there are grounds for concern, we will take up the matter with the appropriate authorities and in our dialogue with the Lao government.[50]

Monitoring and Reporting on Conditions

UN and bilateral donors claim that a decade of intense support has resulted in the “reformation” of the Somsanga center. In May 2009, the head of the UNODC country office in Lao PDR reportedly stated:

We've made many significant changes in Somsanga. The patients are more confident. They aren't treated badly. And the government is more transparent as a result.[51]

A chargé d’affaires at the German Embassy in Vientiane noted in his correspondence to Human Rights Watch:

[L]ooking at the facilities and services in Somsanga with its library, its motorcycle and printing workshops, its gymnasium and its activities program, the center has come a long way since I started following its progress some 3 years ago. These changes have become possible as a result of the dedicated support of various international donors under the leadership of UNODC and it is my firm belief that Samsonga [sic] now offers far better facilities than many other Lao social institutions including schools, hospitals and universities.[52]

However, the exact basis for claims that Somsanga is “a reformed center” is unclear. According to one staff member of an organization familiar with the situation at the center:

As far as I know there is no independent monitoring of these [drug detention] centers either from the perspective of evidence of effectiveness, or from the perspective of compliance with human rights.[53]

This assessment was borne out by Human Rights Watch’s correspondence with donors and implementers supporting Somsanga. Human Rights Watch’s correspondence to all 10 donors and implementers set out the findings of this report and also sought information on whether these organizations had a stated policy for handling reports of human rights violations witnessed or received by staff and how such agencies would seek redress for victims of those abuses. The correspondence also sought information on whether they were aware of any reports of human rights abuses or deaths in custody in Somsanga.

As noted above, by the time this report went to print, Human Rights Watch had not received a response from the US Department of State’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the US Embassy in Vientiane, the Japanese Embassy in Vientiane, and the Australian Embassy in Vientiane.

In their responses to Human Rights Watch, no organization identified a specific mechanism to monitor the human rights of detainees in Somsanga. No organization was aware of any reports of human rights abuses against detainees.

UNODC’s deputy executive director confirmed that the UNODC country representative had personally visited the center on “a number of occasions,” and that the German GIZ (formerly DED)-funded volunteers visited the center on a daily basis to implement and monitor vocational training activities. The correspondence noted that:

[UNODC’s] policy [for the handling of reports of suspected human rights violations witnessed or received by UNODC staff or those implementing UNODC projects] is that any reports will be addressed. An internal policy for UNODC, in the form of a Guidance Note for our staff, is being prepared and will be distributed to our field network when completed.[54]

UNODC’s deputy executive director stated the organization was not aware of any reports of human rights abuses in Somsanga.

In its correspondence, a chargé d’affaires at the German Embassy described the protection of human rights as “one of the guiding principles of German [development] assistance.”[55] The response did not address the specific questions about monitoring of human rights abuses. The response noted that the embassy had no information about human rights abuses in the center.

In its correspondence, the German Agency for International Development replied that “[h]uman rights are the main principle of the German development policy. These principles are authoritative for programs and approaches of the German development policy in cooperation with partner countries.” With respect to monitoring mechanisms, the GIZ response noted:

The GIZ was not involved in any further project activities [in addition to the placement of volunteers in Somsanga] concerning the Somsanga Treatment and Rehabilitation Center and therefore there is no particular GIZ system of monitoring, reporting or evaluation, beyond the individual exchange of experiences with the volunteers and their quarterly reports…. No such reports (of human rights violations) were received or documented by GIZ (formerly DED). Volunteer reports do not give any indication of suspected human rights violations.[56]

In its correspondence, the Singapore International Foundation did not respond to the specific questions about monitoring or reports of human rights abuses or deaths in custody. However it did note:

Five of the six trainings are conducted at a training center in Vientiane City. Only one training was conducted at the Somsanga Treatment Center, during which our project team was confined to the training room and had no direct access to Somsanga Center’s residents or its activities.[57]
In its correspondence, the ambassador of Singapore to Lao PDR did not respond to the specific questions about monitoring or reports of human rights abuses. He noted that the embassy had not received any information regarding the human rights abuses contained in Human Rights Watch’s correspondence.[58]

Omitting any monitoring of the human rights conditions of detainees means that project descriptions, reports, and evaluations routinely point out the success of project activities in drug detention centers while failing to reflect any human rights abuses suffered by project “beneficiaries.” In this way, implementing agencies and the donors who support them risk ignoring the human rights abuses that their project staff or “beneficiaries” witness.

 

[3] Human Rights Watch interview with Pueksapa, Vientiane, late 2010.

[4]Human Rights Watch interviews with Ungkhan and Maesa, Vientiane, late 2010.

[5] Interviews with Ungkhan, Paet, and Maesa confirmed that people can be held in the “upper buildings” against their will: Human Rights Watch interview with Ungkhan, Paet, and Maesa, Vientiane, late 2010.

[6]“Drug Treatment and Vocational Training Center, Vientiane Capital, Laos,” Oukeo Keovoravong, deputy director for treatment and psychology of [Somsanga] center, presentation at Regional Seminar on ATS Treatment and Care, Kunming China, April 18-21, 2011, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.

[7] “Presentation by participant of LCDC at the UNODC Global SMART Programme Regional Workshop,” Lao Commission on Drug Control, Bangkok Thailand, August 5-6, 2010, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.

[8] “Drug Treatment and Vocational Training Center, Vientiane Capital, Laos,” Oukeo Keovoravong, deputy director for treatment and psychology of [Somsanga] center, presentation at Regional Seminar on ATS Treatment and Care, Kunming China, April 18-21, 2011, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.

[9] Human Rights Watch interview with Maesa, Vientiane, late 2010.

[10] “Drug Treatment and Vocational Training Center, Vientiane Capital, Laos,” Oukeo Keovoravong, deputy director for treatment and psychology of [Somsanga] center, presentation at Regional Seminar on ATS Treatment and Care, Kunming China, April 18-21, 2011, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.

[11] Literally, ya ba means “crazy drug,” referring to the limited cases when a methamphetamine consumer might display “crazy” behavior, possibly due to a drug-induced psychosis. Literally, ya ma means “horse drug,” referring to its effects on the consumer’s energy level.

[12] UNODC, “Amphetamines and Ecstasy: 2011 Global ATS Assessment,” September 2011, p. 24. http://www.unodc.org/documents/ATS/ATS_Global_Assessment_2011.pdf (accessed September 26, 2011); UNODC, “Patterns and Trends of Amphetamine-Type Stimulants and Other Drugs: Asia and the Pacific,” 2010, p. 81. Available via http://www.apaic.org/images/stories/publications/2010_Regional_Patterns_and_Trends_ATS.pdf (accessed June 10, 2011).

[13]Human Rights Watch interview with staff member of an international organization, September 2011.

[14]“Presentation by participant of LCDC at the UNODC Global SMART Programme Regional Workshop,” Lao Commission on Drug Control, Bangkok Thailand, August 5-6, 2010, copy on file with Human Rights Watch; UNODC, “Sustaining Opium Reduction in Southeast Asia: Sharing Experiences on Alternative Development and Beyond,” 2009, p. 46; N. Thomson, “Detention as Treatment: Detention of Methamphetamine Users in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand,” The Nossal Institute for Global Health and the Open Society Institute, March 2010, p. 51, http://www.soros.org/initiatives/health/focus/ihrd/articles_publications/publications/detention-as-treatment-20100301 (accessed May 12, 2011).

[15] Chloé Gwinner, “Somsanga: From detention to rehabilitation,” Vientiane Times, April 1, 2010.

[16]According to the UNODC website, “UNODC has been supporting the Lao Government in its efforts in improving services and staff capacity at the centre since 1996 through the provision of infrastructure to ameliorate patients' standards of living, recreational therapy and vocational training, as well as training for the centre's staff.” See “Lao PDR: Creating art on the way to recovery,” UNODC, February 16, 2010, www.unodc.org/laopdr/en/stories/Artwork-on-the-way-to-recovery.html (accessed June 2, 2011).

[17] Letter to Human Rights Watch from Sandeep Chawla, deputy executive director of UNODC, September 27, 2011.

[18] “Expansion of vocational training and occupational therapy opportunities at the Somsanga treatment and Rehabilitation Center (LAO/F13 sub-project),” UNODC, undated, www.unodc.org/laopdr/en/projects/STC/STC.html (accessed June 6, 2011).

[19] In Lao PDR, the state closely controls most media and does not allow for the publication of views critical of the state. The international NGO Freedom House ranks the country 184 of 196 countries in terms of press freedoms and categorizes the country as “not free”: see the Global Press Freedom Rankings in Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2011: A Global Survey of Media Independence” http://freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=668 (accessed August 21, 2011). For its part, the international NGO Reporters Without Borders ranked Lao PDR 168 out of 178 countries on its Press Freedom Index in 2010: see Reporters Without Borders, “Press Freedom Index 2010”, http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2010,1034.html (accessed August 21, 2011).

[20] “Laos tackle drug problem,” KPL Lao News Agency, May 31, 2005.

[21] Gwinner, “Somsanga: From detention to rehabilitation,” Vientiane Times.

[22] Letter from Human Rights Watch to William Brownfield, assistant secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, US Department of State, July 15, 2011; Letter from Human Rights Watch to Karen Stewart, US ambassador to Lao PDR, July 15, 2011; Letter from Human Rights Watch to Lynda Worthaisong, Australian ambassador to Lao PDR, July 15, 2011; Letter from Human Rights Watch to Junko Yokota, Japanese ambassador to Lao PDR, July 15, 2011.

[23] Letters to Human Rights Watch from Sandeep Chawla, deputy executive director of UNODC, August 13, 2011 and September 27, 2011; Letter to Human Rights Watch from Dileep Nair, Singaporean ambassador to Lao PDR, September 5, 2011; Letter to Human Rights Watch from Jean Tan, executive director of the Singapore International Foundation, August 16, 2011; Letter to Human Rights Watch from Wolfgang Thoran, chargé d’affaires in the German Embassy in Lao PDR, August 4, 2011; Letter to Human Rights Watch from Sebastian Paust, managing director of GIZ, July 29, 2011; Letter to Human Rights Watch from David Lipman, head of delegation, European Union Delegation to Laos, August 8, 2011.

[24] Letter to Human Rights Watch from David Lipman, head of delegation, European Union Delegation to Laos, August 8, 2011.

[25]Letter to Human Rights Watch from Sandeep Chawla, deputy executive director of UNODC, September 27, 2011.

[26]Letter to Human Rights Watch from Sandeep Chawla, deputy executive director of UNODC, September 27, 2011.

[27] Citing Souban Srinirath, then-chairman of the National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision [NCDCS]: Phonekeo Vorakhoun, “Drugs burn, sober warnings issued,” Vientiane Times, June 28- July 1, 2002. A year earlier, in mid-2001, Souban Srinirath had reported to a group of donors on Lao drug policy that, “I am also pleased to inform you that with UNDCP [forerunner of UNODC] assistance the construction of our first Detoxification Center for ATS addicts has already started and expected to be completed in the first half of next year.” See “Briefing to the Vientiane Mini-Dublin Group on the implementation of drug control policy of the Lao PDR,” Soubanh Srithirath, chairman of Lao Commission on Drug Control, Vientiane, May 5 2001, copy on file with Human Rights Watch. In mid-2002, the Vientiane Times reported that “[t]he United Nations Drug Control Programme handed over a new rehabilitation and treatment facility to the Somsanga Drug Rehabilitation Centre on June 17 [2002]”: see “UNDCP supports drug rehab,” Vientiane Times, June 18-20, 2002. A month later the Vientiane Times reported that the Somsanga center “is being supported by the Government, some private organizations and the UNDCP [forerunner of UNODC]”: see Thanongsak Bannavong, “Addicts queue up at rehab center,” Vientiane Times, June 28- July 1, 2002.

[28] Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Second Periodic Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, CRC/C/Lao/2, August 10, 2010, para. 154 (c).

[29] “Australia gives USD 9,300 to improve library for drug addicts,” KPL Lao News Agency, June 3, 2010.

[30] See Embassy of the United States, “Somsanga Dedication Ceremony,” February 8, 2008, http://laos.usembassy.gov/naspe_feb08_2008.html (accessed June 6, 2011).

[31] US State Department, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, “International Narcotics Control Strategy Report- 2011: Lao,” March 2011, www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2011/vol1/156361.htm#laos (accessed June 7, 2011).

[32] Letter to Human Rights Watch from Sandeep Chawla, deputy executive director of UNODC, August 13, 2011.

[33] For example, one public invitation for bids in February 2010 was for “The Construction of 2 Patient Dormitories (including fence) at the Somsanga Drug Addiction Treatment Center, Somsanga [village], Vientiane Capital.” See “Invitation for bids,” Vientiane Times, February 1, 2010. Another public invitation for bids, in November 2010, was for the “Construction of Read [sic] Wall/Fence and Wire Mesh Fence” at Somsanga. “Invitation for bids,” Vientiane Times, November 12, 2010.

[34] Letter to Human Rights Watch from Sandeep Chawla, deputy executive director of UNODC, September 27, 2011.

[35]“Expansion of vocational training and occupational therapy opportunities at the Somsanga Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (LAO/F13 sub-project),” UNODC,www.unodc.org/laopdr/en/projects/STC/STC.html (accessed June 6, 2011).

[36] Note that this amount includes the US$95,200 for construction of new dormitories described above. Letter to Human Rights Watch from Sandeep Chawla, deputy executive director of UNODC, August 13, 2011.

[37] Ibid.

[38] “Singapore International Volunteers,” www.sif.org.sg/programmes/5/stories/181/drug-rehabilitation (accessed June 2, 2011).

[39]Letter to Human Rights Watch from Jean Tan, executive director of the Singapore International Foundation, August 16, 2011.

[40] “Singapore International Volunteers,” www.sif.org.sg/programmes/5/stories/181/drug-rehabilitation (accessed June 2, 2011).

[41]Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst (DED) is now the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).

[42]GIZ clarified that “weltwärts-volunteers” were not professional experts but “young high school graduates, around 18-years-old, volunteering for social services in other countries, wishing to get first-hand experiences from social and development work while experiencing another culture.” Letter to Human Rights Watch from Sebastian Paust, managing director of GIZ, July 29, 2011.

[43] Ibid.

[44] US State Department, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, “International Narcotics Control Strategy Report- 2010: Lao,” March 2010, www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2010/vol1/137197.htm (accessed June 7, 2011).

[45] Letter to Human Rights Watch from Sandeep Chawla, deputy executive director of UNODC, August 13, 2011.

[46]“Vacancy: International Project Assistant at Somsanga Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, Vientiane,” closing date April 10, 2011, http://unjobs.org/vacancies/1301557744456 (accessed June 7, 2011).

[47] “Australia gives USD 9,300 to improve library for drug addicts,” KPL Lao News Agency, June 3, 2010.

[48]Letter to Human Rights Watch from Dileep Nair, Singaporean ambassador to Lao PDR, September 5, 2011.

[49] Letter to Human Rights Watch from Wolfgang Thoran, chargé d’affaires in the German Embassy in Lao PDR, August 4, 2011.

[50] Letter to Human Rights Watch from David Lipman, head of delegation, European Union Delegation to Laos, August 8, 2011.

[51]“Laos: Grappling with ‘crazy drugs,’” IRIN humanitarian news and analysis, May 20, 2009, www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=84457 (accessed June 10, 2011).

[52]Letter to Human Rights Watch from Wolfgang Thoran, chargé d’affaires in the German Embassy in Lao PDR, August 4, 2011.

[53]Human Rights Watch interview with staff member of an international organization, September 2011.

[54] Letter to Human Rights Watch from Sandeep Chawla, deputy executive director of UNODC, August 13, 2011.

[55] Letter to Human Rights Watch from Wolfgang Thoran, chargé d’affaires in the German Embassy in Lao PDR, August 4, 2011.

[56] Letter to Human Rights Watch from Sebastian Paust, managing director of GIZ, July 29, 2011.

[57]Letter to Human Rights Watch from Jean Tan, executive director of the Singapore International Foundation, August 16, 2011.

[58]Letter to Human Rights Watch from Dileep Nair, Singaporean ambassador to Lao PDR, September 5, 2011.