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Vietnam sends drug users to re-education camp

191 drug abusers had escaped an overcrowded camp after fighting among themselves over sharing information with officials
An inmate puts out fodder for buffalo and deer at a drug rehabilitation center in Vietnam. The National Assembly's Social Committee has stated most of the rehabilitation facilities in the country fail to meet the required standards.

An inmate puts out fodder for buffalo and deer at a drug rehabilitation center in Vietnam. The National Assembly's Social Committee has stated most of the rehabilitation facilities in the country fail to meet the required standards. (Photo: AFP)

Published: March 14, 2024 11:33 AM GMT
Updated: March 15, 2024 05:27 AM GMT

A court in Vietnam has asked 90 drug abusers to work in a re-education camp for their involvement in an escape from an overcrowded rehabilitation camp last month.

On March 13, the People's Court of southern Soc Trang province said the escapees will have to stay at the Con Cat Compulsory Education Camp in the province for up to 24 months, state-owned Nguoilaodong reported.

At the camp, they will have to learn basic education, how to behave well, work on farms, raise cattle, and do other manual work.

The camp, run by the public security ministry, houses an estimated 200 people who have disrupted social order when they were under the age of 18. They hail from 19 southern provinces and cities in the country.

The court has accused the drug abusers of causing public disorder, attacking officers, and destroying facilities while escaping from the rehabilitation center in the southwestern Mekong Delta province on Feb. 23.

Some 191 drug abusers escaped from the rehabilitation center after a group of addicts started fighting among themselves over sharing information with officials. Four addicts and four security officers were injured and 191 out of the 460 addicts, mostly men, escaped.

The police have picked up 160 escapees, the newspaper reported.

After the escape, the provincial government hiked the strength of employees at the center.

The Ministry of Social Affairs is expected to provide 19 billion dong (US$760,000) to upgrade infrastructure at the center which was established in 1989 and had a capacity of 300 people.

Most of the drug users at the camp have poor qualifications. Nearly 40 percent of them have criminal records and about 25 percent suffer from HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases.

Vietnam has more than 30,000 drug addicts undergoing compulsory treatment at government facilities.

Most detainees undergo the cold turkey treatment, involving abrupt cessation of substance dependence, in the overloaded centers to get rid of their addiction.

The National Assembly's Social Committee has reported that the Southeast Asian country has 97 public rehab centers and 13 private units.

The committee said most facilities fail to meet the required standards.

In 2023, police busted 24,800 cases of drug trafficking, arrested 38,700 drug offenders, and seized 450 kilograms of heroin, 4.9 tons of synthetic drugs, 80 kilograms of opium, 480 kilograms of marijuana, and 330 kilograms of cocaine.

Vietnam is one of the major drug-trafficking hubs in the subcontinent despite having some of the strictest anti-drug laws.

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