Slavery Ends for China's Rehabbing Addicts

By Jed Bickman 10/19/11

Global outrage last year at reports of forced labor and harsh punishment in China's recovery system forced new rights for patients.

Forced labor dropped as rehab tool. Photo via

China has just passed a new law protecting the human rights of drug addicts in rehabilitation centers. The move comes a year after the nation's rehabs endured an international firestorm from human rights advocates and the recovery movement for its cruel and unusual punishment of recovering addicts, including unpaid forced labor amounting to slavery. The new law specifically prohibits forced labor, while providing general protections for patient privacy and freedom of communication. Opportunities to work are still on offer, but no more than six hours a day, and earnings must be kept in a private bank account. The new regulation also requires rehab centers to institute 24-hour video monitoring systems. Although this seemingly contradicts the new privacy protection, authorities say that it will prevent abuse and avoid treatable deaths.

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Jed Bickman is a journalist and copywriter living in the greater New York City area. He is the associate editor at The New Press. You can find him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.