A Man , injects a syringe filled with heroin in his rented room in Hanoi
A man injects a syringe filled with heroin into his arm. Methadone clinics aim to wean people off illicit drugs and transform them into productive members of society. Reuters

The United Nation's has called on the Vietnamese government to close down rehabilitation centres for drug users and sex workers, calling them "counter-productive."

Following criticisms from rights groups and claims of abuse and at the end of a ten-day visit in Vietnam, Anand Grover, a special rapporteur for the UN Human Rights Council said Monday that the centres violate rights by forcing treatment upon the patients.

"The detainees are denied the right to be free from non-consensual treatment as well as the right to informed consent in all medically related decisions," Gover said Monday in a statement.

His criticism followed a report by Human Rights Watch calling for Vietnam to shut down drug rehabilitation centres after abuse on inmates were reported.

Grover said the compulsory detention in the centres violates the detainees' situation as they "have no right to know about their case against them and challenge it at a hearing before the decision is made."

He called the centres "ineffective and counterproductive," and said he "wholeheartedly" supports their closure.

"It's essential to ensure that the considerable resources now invested in these centres are used instead to expand alternative treatments for injecting drug users, "he added.

Grover, who also co-founded and directs the HIV/AIDS unit for India's Lawyers Collective, a nongovernmental organization that promotes human rights in India warned that Vietnam's rehabilitation centres contribute to the stigmatization and discrimination of drug users and sex workers.

In September, Human Rights Watch issued a 126-page report urging Vietnam to shut down drug rehabilitation centres after inmates said they were subjected to abuse and forced labour.

According to the report over the past decades hundreds of thousands of drug addicts or sex workers have been imprisoned in such centres without due process. They are forced to work and received beatings, while being given very little money for their hard labour.

The report highlighted the case of Que Phong, a user that entered rehabilitation centre voluntarily but was told after a few months that the management had decided to extend his stay by a total of four years.

"If you refused to work they slapped you. If you still refused to work they sent you to the punishment room. Everyone worked."

According to detainees accounts punishments include being beaten with wooden truncheons or electric batons. Food and water rations are restricted, as well as bathing and family visits are also prohibited.

Human Rights Watch also warned that in some of the centres children were also being detained, forced to work, beaten and abused.

The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga criticised the report saying that compulsory drug detention centres were "humane, effective and beneficial for drug users, community and society."