Thursday, April 14, 2016 4:34 pm
Police in Southern Vietnam on Thursday brought 155 patients back to a drug rehabilitation detention centre after 447 inmates staged a chaotic escape, an official said on Thursday.
The incident occurred on Wednesday evening as patients at the facility in Ba Ria Vung Tau province, where convicted drug users are compelled to undergo treatment, staged a fight.
When guards arrived to intervene, they were overwhelmed by the patients.
After seizing the guards’ keys, they released other inmates from their cells before breaking down the main gate.
“One of our officers was injured due to stones being thrown,” said Le Trang Dai, Director of Provincial Labour and Social Department, which oversees the facility.
Several reportedly threw stones back into the centre after their escape, robbed some motorbikes and broke into a local business.
Authorities said they were calling upon the families of the escaped drug users to help bring them back to the centre.
Director Dai said that the patients probably escaped because they were unhappy with conditions in the centre.
“Those addicts before were staying outside where life is comfortable, while they felt cramped staying in the centre.
“Many patients were disconcerted by the fact they were unsure of how long they’d be locked up.
“Under Vietnamese law, patients may have their stays in the centres extended indefinitely based on the judgement of the authorities.
“They do not feel psychologically reassured because they do not know whether courts will hand them a short or a long time staying in the centre,” she said.
Vietnam’s state run drug rehabilitation centres have come under criticism by international organisations.
U.S. based Human Rights Watch has accused the centres of functioning as forced labour camps under the guise of labour therapy while the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has recommended reforms in Vietnam to end compulsory treatment.