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Treated with Cruelty: Abuses in the Name of Rehabilitation

  • Date
  • June 2011

The Campaign to Stop Torture in Health Care, a coalition led by the Open Society Foundations, has published a new report documenting the personal testimonies of men and women who have been detained in drug rehabilitation centers in Cambodia, China, Mexico, and Russia. Each year, thousands of people are locked away in these centers without any real access to medical care or legal recourse. Drug users rarely enter such detention centers voluntarily, and even if they do, they nearly never are allowed to leave at their will.

Detention centers often rely on physical abuse, shackles, solitary confinement, and other indignities to "treat" drug addiction and extract labor from the detainees. Moreover, they are often overseen by government authorities, and private companies are allowed to exploit the forced labor inside. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of people quickly return to drug use once they are released from these centers.

The report, Treated with Cruelty: Abuses in the Name of Rehabilitation, presents the harrowing personal stories alongside commentary about the human rights that are being denied to the individuals who are locked away. Manfred Nowak, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, also adds his voice in an introduction calling for the closure of drug detention facilities.

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