More than 400 Vietnamese drug addicts escape from rehab

More than 400 Vietnamese drug addicts have escaped from a rehabilitation centre where they were detained to receive compulsory treatment, a local official said today.

The detainees, many wielding sticks, broke free from the centre near the port city of Haiphong in north-east Vietnam on Sunday.

“(They) fled after breaking the door and threatened the guards with sticks,” Nguyen Huy Hoang, an official from Thuy Nguyen district – where the centre is located – said.

Police found some of the addicts back at their homes, while around 30 others voluntarily returned to the treatment centre.

“The police are searching for those who are still at large,” he added.

The communist government enforces the compulsory treatment programme for the country’s estimated 140,000 drug addicts.

Photo: CNB

Addicts must undergo two-year spells of “rehabilitation” - in what the government describes as an effort to bring down rising rates of drug use, especially among young people.

Addicts complained after the centre reduced the amount the amount of money spent on food.

The United States-based Human Rights Watch said the treatment centres are “forced labour camps” where inmates do not receive proper health care and are often subjected to physical violence.

Addicts are mostly forced to report to the centres by their family or local authorities, but they are not criminals. - AFP