PM Dung says Vietnam may open processing centers for drug addicts

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Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (R) chaired a meeting on handling drug addicts in Hanoi on November 3, 2014. Photo credit: Vietnam Government Portal Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (R) chaired a meeting on handling drug addicts in Hanoi on November 3, 2014. Photo credit: Vietnam Government Portal

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Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has proposed that the National Assembly allow cities and provinces to create involuntary detox centers for drug addicts who are awaiting processing and evaluation before being sent to official rehabilitation centers. 
PM Dung chaired a Monday meeting of NA committees, representatives of the Supreme People’s Court and relevant ministries to discuss of alleviating a logjam of drug addicts. 
According to the Ministry of Public Security, drug addiction has grown increasingly complicated. At the moment, no city or province is free of drug addicts. Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Son La Province have the highest numbers of drug addicts as well as HIV-infected people, according to the ministry's account. 
Lawmakers and government officials seemed to agree that the country must take swift action to simplify the procedural requirements for sending a drug user into a rehabilitation program. 
According to the Law on the Settlement of Administrative Violations that went into effect on January 1, drug addicts can only be forced into a rehab centers after a prolonged evaluative process that requires input from healthcare workers, police and labor agencies. 
The final decision is supposed to be made by a court. 
The law was designed to prevent abuse of power and protect the rights of the addicts. 
In practice, they have been fraught with complicated procedural Catch-22s. 
During the ongoing NA session, Ho Chi Minh City's lawmakers called on the NA to empower municipal authorities to send drug addicts to rehab centers instead of waiting for approval from relevant agencies and courts. 
During the monday meeting, PM Dung said the Constitution prohibits any restriction of citizen rights  must be regulated by the law and ordered by the courts, and the Law on the Settlement of Administrative Violations was issued in this spirit. 
The PM added that the law can be amended, he said.
In the meantime, the PM proposed that the NA allow cities and provinces to open pilot holding centers where law enforcement officers can send suspected drug addicts to detox and receive psychological evaluation while awaiting approval from relevant agencies and courts to be remanded to official rehab centers. 
The PM also proposed that the NA delay the enforcement of some articles of the Law on the Settlement of Administrative Violations regarding the handling of drug addicts while the country consider the pending amendments.

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