UNAIDS, WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia (WHO SEARO), WHO Regional Office for Western Pacific (WHO WPRO), and other United Nations entities in the region urgently call on Member States to close compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres
and implement voluntary, evidence-informed and rights-based health and social services in the community.
There is no evidence that compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres are beneficial in terms of a favourable or effective environment for the treatment of drug dependence; or for the “rehabilitation” of individuals
who have engaged in sex work; or for children who have been victims of sexual exploitation, abuse or the lack of adequate care and protection. Instead, inmates face higher vulnerabilities, including HIV, TB as well as COVID-19, as
a result of sub-standard living conditions, including massive overcrowding and other challenges in maintaining physical distancing.
Compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres need to be closed. Instead, voluntary, evidence-informed and rights-based health and social services must be implemented in the community. This is as an important measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 and
to facilitate the recovery and reintegration of those in the centres back into their families and communities.
UN entities at the global level have urged political leaders to ensure that COVID-19 preparedness and responses in prisons and any closed settings are identified and implemented in line with fundamental human rights; are guided by WHO
guidance and recommendations; and never amount to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
WHO SEARO stand committed to work with Member States as they take steps to permanently close compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres. WHO will support transition to evidence-informed system of voluntary community-based treatment and services
that are aligned with international guidelines and principles of drug dependence treatment, drug use and human rights.