Statement by Eliot Ross Albers, Executive Director
International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD)
Thank you, Mr Chair.
I wish to draw attention to the Executive Director’s remark that Vietnam is in the “forefront of harm reduction”, whilst it is indeed true that Vietnam has rolled out a programme of community based methadone programmes, it is disingenuous to speak of a country that by it’s own admission condemned 169 000 people to compulsory drug detention centres between 2006 and 2010. M. Sidibé you are yourself on the record as having in 2010 described these centres as “in violation of human rights” and stated that “the crimes which are being committed today in the name of drug detention must be denounced”.
These centres are by no means a thing of the past. Indeed recent supports suggest that the Vietnamese government is planning to ramp up the compulsory detention of people who use drugs in so called “social centres”, this is said to be in response to public drug use and amounts to little more than the cleansing of social space of undesirables. A very concrete example of the stigma and discrimination that we all condemn.
The Vietnamese government has suggested that it is making these efforts because methadone programmes are not producing a “drug free community”. The aim of a society that is “drug free” is chimerical,wrong headed, impossible to achieve and flatly incompatible with both civil liberties and the human right to bodily autonomy and self determination. It is a pursuit furthermore that drives gross and systematic human rights abuses.
The fight against HIV and for the human rights of marginalised communities cannot afford to give false flattery nor fail to confront states when they enact policies that breach human rights – compulsory drug detention centres are a particularly repugnant exemplar of such policies. The Global Fund has recently announced that it will not fund such centres, and I call upon UNAIDS not to collude in rendering them invisible.