Ho Chi Minh City leaders have warned district heads to pull drug addicts off the streets before the Lunar New Year holiday in mid-February, or take full responsibility.
The city People’s Committee issued a statement asking all 24 districts to send addicts in their jurisdictions to temporary rehab centers by February 8, VnExpress news website reported.
The centers are in charge of making sure the inmates detox and receive psychological evaluation
Heads of the districts will have to answer for any addicts who are still wandering the streets, the statement said.
The current Law on Handling Administrative Violations, which took effect on January 1, transferred the power to send drug addicts to compulsory rehabilitation programs from the police to district-level courts.
The process took so much time that HCMC hasn’t managed to send a single addict to rehab this year.
The backlog moved municipal officials to press the issue at government meetings, prompting the National Assembly, Vietnam’s legislature, to allow cities and provinces to set up temporary holding facilities for addicts.
That order inspired police and militiamen to launch one of the largest anti-crime sweeps on record, mostly against drug addicts.
Each district has to report the results of sweeps in their area, daily, to the city People’s Committee.
Law enforcement officials arrested 1,200 drug addicts in the first four days. More than 700 of them have been sent to Binh Trieu welfare center in Binh Thanh District and Nhi Xuan vocational center in Hoc Mon District.
The city has set aside the space and staff to hold 2,000 drug addicts temporarily, while urging courts to decide in 15 days on whether to send them to compulsory rehab centers.
During a meeting of the city’s Party leaders and councilors, Hua Ngoc Thuan, vice chairman of HCMC, said that controlling drug addicts is a government priority that has achieved emergency status.