CAMBODIA’S handling of drug addicts has come under fire in a new report by Human Rights Watch, which has accused staff at drug treatment centres of denying care for people in withdrawal and forcing other drug-dependant inmates to perform labour or exercise, according to a statement released Thursday by the New York-based group.
“The Hippocratic Oath declares that physicians must treat all patients to the best of their abilities and to do them no ‘harm or injustice’,” said Joe Amon, the health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch.
“Medical societies need to show leadership to empower health providers to act to prevent patients from being tortured or abused,” Amon added. “The international rights community needs to join in these efforts.”
Authorities announced in December that the government is planning to build the country’s first national drug rehabilitation centre with support from Vietnam.
The news came amid controversy over a recently completed detoxification programme in which street drug users were dosed with a little-known Vietnamese herbal medication – a scheme that has drawn criticism from rights groups and concern from the UN.
The new treatment centre, would fall under the watch of Cambodia’s anti-drugs bureau, the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD).
“Our future is to build a national drug centre,” NACD Secretary General Moek Dara said in December. “We will have trained doctors to treat addicted people and provide [drug users] with job training.”