Chinese officials have ordered drug treatment centers in the country to provide improved access to health care after New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a report criticizing the facilities for subjecting patients to practices including detention and forced labor.
The directive was announced in the state-run Xinhua news agency on Wednesday, ordering facility staff to include “in-house nurses and doctors, and practitioner pharmacists if possible.”
The report from Human Rights Watch, titled “Where Darkness Knows No Limits,” said that in addition to forced labor, detainees were also being subjecting to mandatory HIV screening without disclosing test results or providing any health care or drug dependency treatment.
RFA quoted Joseph Amon, health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch, as saying that even with promises of upgrades from Beijing, the basic model of a treatment center run by the Public Security Bureau is “flawed.”
“We’re not looking to improve conditions within drug detention centers—we’re looking to shut them down because what’s effective at treating drug dependency is voluntary, community-based, out-patient treatment,” he said.
He added that even with improved health care, treatment center rehabilitation rates would likely remain low.
“In China, where those voluntary treatment facilities are nonexistent, people who want to get off drugs have very, very few choices. No one is going to sign up for three years of forced labor and detention as a strategy for reducing their drug use.”
Human Rights Watch Reports:
Where Darkness Knows No Limits
Public Security Forces Undermine HIV Response