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UN independent expert urges Viet Nam to close down compulsory rehabilitation centres for drug users and sex workers

HANOI (5 December 2011) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, concluded his mission to Viet Nam today by stressing that detention and compulsory treatment of injecting drug users and female sex workers in the so-called rehabilitation centres violate their right to health.

“Detainees are denied the right to be free from non-consensual treatment as well as the right to informed consent in all medically related decisions”, he said. Calling the practices “ineffective and counterproductive”, the UN independent expert underscored that the centres perpetuate stigmatization and discrimination of those groups in the society, impede the Government’s HIV/AIDS efforts and have proven futile in reducing drug use and sex work, their stated objective.

“I wholeheartedly support the closure of the rehabilitation centres”, said Mr Grover, “it is essential to ensure that the considerable resources now invested in these centres are used instead to expand alternative treatments for injecting drug users”. In that context, he commended the Government on initiating a number of pilot methadone and community-based programmes, which “are less costly and more effective in reducing drug use and facilitating the reintegration of injecting drug users back into the society”.

The Special Rapporteur further underlined that participation of affected populations in health decision-making was an essential component of the right to health, and encouraged the Government of Viet Nam to empower its people, including vulnerable groups, to actively participate in formulating and implementing all decisions concerning their health.

The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to help States, and others, promote and protect the right to the highest attainable standard of health (right to health). Anand Grover (India) is co-founder and Director of the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit and the Senior Counsel in India.

(*) Read the full end-of-mission statement by the Special Rapporteur: www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11683&LangID=E

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Health/Pages/SRRightHealthIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country page – Viet Nam: www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/VNIndex.aspx

For press inquiries and additional information during the visit, please contact Jamshid Gaziyev (Tel.: +41 79 752 0483 / email: jgaziyev@ohchr.org) or write to srhealth@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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