March 9, 2012
A joint statement issued by twelve UN agencies* yesterday (March 8, 2012) calls for closure of compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres.
In Asia alone, it is estimated that some 300,000 people are kept in compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres. People who are suspected of using drugs, people who have engaged in sex work and children who have been victims of sexual exploitation are detained without due process in the name of ‘treatment’ or ‘rehabilitation’. States that maintain these centres often present them as necessary to address drug dependence and sex work. There is however no evidence that compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres represent an appropriate and effective environment for the treatment of drug dependence or for the protection and rehabilitation of those detained.
Human rights experts, health practitioners, civil society and UN entities have raised serious concerns about these centres, including on grounds that they violate a broad range of human rights and that they jeopardise the health of those detained.
According to one of the UN agendies, UNAIDS, the joint statement “will enable coordinated and concerted efforts by the UN system at country, regional and global levels to support governments to close compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres and replace them with voluntary, rights-based, evidence-informed programmes in the community”. IFHHRO welcomes this initiative very much. We have been involved in a Open Soicety Foundations-led campaign that focuses on torture in health care, in which compulsory detention and rehabilitation is one of the main issues.
* International Labour Organisation (ILO); Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO); United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women); World Food Programme (WFP); World Health Organisation (WHO); and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)