Human Rights Watch uses the term detainees to refer to those who reported that they were detained against their will, as well as those who entered the centers on a voluntary basis. The term detainee is appropriate for those who enter on a voluntary basis because once inside the centers they are not free to leave. A high proportion of those who entered the centers on a voluntary basis subsequently had their detention extended without being offered an opportunity for release.
The word “child” is used in this report to refer to anyone under the age of 18. The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines as a child “every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.” Vietnam’s 2004 Law on Child Protection, Care and Education (Law on Child Protection) defines children as under 16 years of age, while Vietnam’s Civil Code (art. 20) defines a child as anyone under 18. Vietnam’s Penal Code of 1997 (revised in 1999) defines the age of criminal responsibility to be 14 (for criminal offenses) but 12 for administrative offenses. Vietnam’s Labor Law sets the minimum age for employment at 18; however, children as young as 15 can be employed under certain circumstances. Vietnam’s Law on Child Protection states in art. 2 that international law takes precedence over domestic in cases where national laws differ from international agreements that Vietnam has signed.
This report does not purport to cover the similar—although administratively distinct—system of detention centers for sex workers that operates in Vietnam. For a recent discussion of these centers, see Nguyen-vo Thu-huong, The Ironies of Freedom: sex, culture, and neo-liberal governance in Vietnam (University of Washington Press, 2008).
Centers are also referred to as “06 centers,” after the 1993 legislation that gave impetus to the expansion of Vietnam’s system of drug detention centers. The two decrees currently governing drug detention centers are Decree 135/2004, “Prescribing the Regime on Application of the Measures of Consignment to Medical Treatment Establishments, the Organization and Operation of Medical Treatment Establishments under the Ordinance on Handling of Administrative Violations and the Regime Applicable to Minors and Volunteers in Medical Treatment Establishments,” June 10, 2004, and Decree 94/2009/ND-CP, “Regulating in Detail the Implementation of the Law to Amend and Supplement a Number of Articles of the Law on Drug Prevention Regarding Post-Rehabilitation Management,” October 26, 2009.
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