Chaining, public humiliation, abduction, and prayer. If these were treatments offered for diabetes or heart disease, we would see them as cruel and abusive. Yet these are tactics used widely in centers for the “treatment and rehabilitation” of people who use drugs in Latin America and the Caribbean.
These abusive centers often operate unlawfully and without medical or governmental supervision. Their practices run counter to evidence-based drug treatments recommended by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and reveal how often drug dependency is treated as a moral failing rather than a medical condition. As regional governments prepare for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs in April, defining what truly constitutes a “public health approach” to drug policy is increasingly important.
Join the Open Society Foundations and the Washington Office on Latin America for the launch of a new report documenting the abuses in drug rehabilitation centers in Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, and take an unprecedented look inside these often overlooked and undocumented institutions.
- John Walsh is senior associate at the Washington Office on Latin America.
- Dr. Rafael Torruella is director of Intercambios Puerto Rico.
- Carlos Zamudio Angles is a researcher for the Consortium for a Comprehensive Drug Policy.
- Francis Taylor is director for drug policy, human rights coordinator for vulnerable populations, and director of community resilience at the Center for Integral Research and Education.
- Denise Tomasini-Joshi (moderator) is deputy director of the Open Society International Harm Reduction Development Program.
The event will be in English and Spanish, and simultaneous interpretation will be provided. A reception with refreshments will take place following the presentation.