Compulsory Treatment and Rehabilitation in East and Southeast Asia
Despite the high financial and human costs, mounting evidence of human rights violations, and failure to produce sustained public health and drug use outcomes, compulsory detention in the name of drug treatment remains a steadfast practice across East and Southeast Asia.
International consensus has shifted to the need for a comprehensive and integrated range of voluntary services that are person-centred and encompass drug dependence treatment, harm reduction and support services in communities. These must be informed by universal human rights obligations and scientific evidence that demonstrates what works and what does not. This approach is considered keystone for addressing drug use and dependence—one that has shown positive effects on public safety and health.
United Nations agencies have recognized the negative impacts of compulsory drug treatment on the health and human rights of people affected by drug use and dependence. The United Nations issued two Joint Statements, in March 2012 and June 2020, calling for the permanent closure of compulsory facilities for people who use drugs. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also convened regional consultations in 2010, 2012 and 2015. These forums led to political commitments by Member States to implement national processes to accelerate the transition away from compulsory treatment and rehabilitation towards voluntary community-based drug dependence treatment, harm reduction and support for people who use drugs.