The HCLU – and similar watchdog organizations - are often criticised because we are too censorious and fail to recognize small steps of progress. This is partly true, but not without reason: our mission is to carefully monitor those in power and remind them to follow the principles they were mandated to protect. But this is one of the rare occasions we would like to applaud UN officials for their courage. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, together with other UN agencies, released a joint statement on compulsory drug detention camps and their message is to be applauded: these camps MUST be closed down! The HCLU video advocacy team asked the head of UNODC about the statement at a press conference in Vienna - in his answer he emphasized the need for the mainstreaming of human rights in drug policies. Watch our movie and find out more!
In 2010 we produced a movie on forced "treatment" centers: Abuse in the Name of Treatment. It has almost 10,000 views on YouTube now. Approximately 400,000 people are detained in these centers in South-East Asia. Drug users do not have access to evidence-based treatment in these camps, but forced labour, torture, starvation, sexual abuse and other forms of maltreatment is commonplace. A few years ago, Human Rights Watch discovered that these camps got funding from international organizations like the Global Fund and UNICEF. The advocacy efforts of civil society created a lot of media attention and finally led to the joint condemnation of the camps by the international community.
I remember when a public screening and discussion of our movie was held at the film festival of the international harm reduction conference in Beirut, Chinese government officials accused us of distorting the picture and they claimed that governments are doing a lot to improve the situation in those camps. I am glad to see that the head of UNODC came to the same conclusion as we did: the solution is not to improve the situation in concentration camps, but to close them down.