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Rights Group Urges Review of Drug Detentions

A leading rights group has urged the United Nations to reconsider its support of government drug rehabilitation centers, following allegations of abuse.

“UN officials agree that these centers are illegal and abusive,” Joe Amon, health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “Now Unicef and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime need to make clear to the Cambodian government that the centers should be shut down.”

A new Human Rights Watch report alleges that government rehab centers forcibly detain suspected drug addicts, who are “often forced to work at hard manual labor or exercise as a means of ‘treatment.’”

Anand Chaudhuri, project coordinator for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Cambodia, said treatment could not be effective in an environment of detention.

“You cannot detain somebody and say that it is treatment,” he said. “We have to have some evidence, and we have to give the choice. Then only it works.”

Khieu Samon, deputy director of the Ministry of Interior’s traffic and crime department, said Monday the report by Human Rights Watch was “not true.”

“The drug center is not a place to detain or commit abuse to drug users,” he said. “Normally, we receive the request from drug users and the parents of drug users to cure the child in the center.”