Cablegate: Narcotics Certification Procedures for 2004

Published: Thu 3 Jun 2004 03:10 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
Ref: A. 03 Hanoi 1549 B. 03 Hanoi 3288 C. 03 Hanoi 1885 D.
03 Hanoi 1504 E. 03 Hanoi 1043 F. 03 Hanoi 0353 G. 03 Hanoi
0549 H. 03 Hanoi 3550 I. 03 Hanoi 3156
1. (U) In response to incoming request, post is providing
responses keyed to 2004 certification instruction points as
2. (U) Implementation of the counternarcotics Master Plan
for 2001-2005:
--This is an ongoing activity that continues to make slow
but steady progress. The United Nations Office of Drugs and
Crime (UNODC) continues its support with a USD 276,000
project designed to help the GVN finalize the plan (which
now is extended to 2010). The USG is contributing USD
100,000 to the project. According to Bui Xuan Hieu, Section
Chief, Vietnam Standing Office for Drug Control (SODC), the
plan now is in the Office of the Government (Prime
Minister's office) waiting for approval. Approval should be
forthcoming "soon."
3. (U) Continued focus on narcotics-related corruption,
including policy statements that make it clear that
narcotics-related corruption will not be tolerated and will
be severely punished, including the removal and prosecution
of corrupt officials, when found:
--The UN, law enforcement agencies, and even the GVN view
corruption in Vietnam as an endemic problem that exists at
all levels and in all sectors. In its public statements,
the GVN takes a strong stand against corruption in general,
but has not singled out narcotics-related corruption for
specific attention. Colonel Bui Xuan Bien, SODC director,
confirmed that "any GVN official who violates laws about
corruption" would be prosecuted. In addition to the Nam Cam
case in 2003 (ref A), there have recently been a number of
other corruption cases. In a March 2004 case, 26 Lang Son
provincial customs officials were sentenced to between 2 and
18 years in prison for taking bribes at Tan Thanh
International Border Gate in Lang Son Province. The
offenders were charged with extorting more than USD 280,000
between June 2000 and June 2001 by falsifying customs
documents claiming VAT refunds on non-existent exported
goods. Vietnam's state-controlled media also gave prominent
coverage to the La Thi Kim Oanh Case (ref I). Oanh, a
former official of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural
Development, was sentenced to death for misappropriating USD
4.9 million and causing a loss of USD 2.2 million to the
state budget; two vice Ministers were found guilty of
related charges, although their sentences were suspended
upon appeal. In a drug-related corruption case, during a
court trial in Ho Chi Minh City in January, former police
major Nguyen Cong Trieu of the Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)
Police's Investigation Division was given an eight year
sentence for taking bribes and fined USD 2,500, while former
lawyer Phan Van Hai was sentenced to three years in prison
for acting as a middleman for bribes, and fined USD 2,000;
--Senior GVN officials continue to speak out against
corruption. In January, Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV)
General Secretary Nong Duc Manh said during the opening of
the Party Central Committee's ninth plenum that the CPV
would "clarify the causes of success and failure through
specific reviews while seeking ways to intensify the combat
against corruption, wasteful spending and bureaucracy." At
a meeting in Hanoi on April 14, 2004 to review the execution
of the Politburo's resolution on key judicial tasks,
President Tran Duc Luong called for further judicial reform
to bolster the fight against crime including corruption. In
December 2003, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai confirmed during
the closing session of a ministerial meeting in HCMC that
administrative reform and the fight against corruption were
crucial issues that must be addressed in 2004. During a
meeting in Hanoi in March, Phan Dien, Member of the CPV's
Politburo and Standing member of its Secretariat, claimed
that Vietnam had "deterred corruption although not
completely stopped it." Phan Dien admitted that combating
corruption is key to economic renovation. Before the
People's Councils elections took place in April, Pham The
Duyet, President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, said that
Vietnam planned to use the election to find "new blood" to
combat corruption, and that the election "should help
develop a better state management system to fight
corruption." At the international level, in December 2003,
Vietnam joined 94 other countries in signing the UN
Convention against Corruption at the international
conference in Merida, Mexico;
--A bilateral anti-corruption agreement with Sweden,
providing about USD 2.7 million to fund research on socio-
economic policy and anti-corruption measures over a three-
year period, was signed in 2002. Under the agreement,
Sweden is supporting a study on the "institutional framework
of anti-corruption policies." While the official agreement
is with the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the actual
partner is the CPV.
4. (U) Developing and implementing regulations enabling
the tools provided in the new counternarcotics law to be
used fully and effectively to investigate major drug-
trafficking groups:
--The National Assembly passed a comprehensive
counternarcotics law on December 9, 2000, which came into
effect on June 1, 2001. The GVN directed Ministry of Public
Security (MPS) and other ministries, including the Ministry
of Justice (MOJ), to agree on a common approach for
implementation. In addition, MOJ was tasked with working
with MPS and other relevant agencies to review existing
counternarcotics legal documents and make appropriate
amendments to facilitate implementation of the new law.
According to Dr. Doris Buddenberg, UNODC Resident
Representative, UNODC is assisting the GVN in an "ad hoc"
manner in this area, especially concerning implementing
decrees and legal training. There is now a donor
coordination group consisting of Sweden, Denmark, and the
USAID-funded Support for Trade Acceleration (STAR) project
that meets once a month to discuss legal issues; however,
the focus is not specifically on narcotics;
--Between 1953 and 2004, Vietnam passed more than 70 decrees
and legal documents concerning drug issues. More recently,
the GVN has made public eight decrees related to the
counternarcotics law. These decrees:
a. list the narcotic substances and precursor chemicals;
b. guide the control of lawful drug-related activities in
c. stipulate the rehabilitation order, procedures, and
regimes for drug addicts assigned to compulsory
rehabilitation centers;
d. designate "family organization" and "community-based"
e. prescribe the regime of compensation and allowances for
individuals, families, agencies, and organizations suffering
life, health, and property damage while participating in
drug prevention activities;
f. stipulate the rewards and commendations for individuals,
families, agencies, and organizations recording achievements
in drug prevention;
g. assign responsibility on international cooperation in
the field of drug prevention. (Note: According to DEA's
Hanoi Country Office, this decree contains no concrete
formulation for creating a framework to allow for
information sharing and/or cooperative law enforcement
efforts. The decree also does not provide implementing
regulations for international controlled deliveries, which
is mentioned in the 2001 drug law); and,
h. Regulate the management of private treatment centers and
stipulate conditions and procedures to grant and revoke
working licenses for such centers.
According to SODC, the GVN will issue at least two other
decrees this year to guide the implementation of the Drug
Law. These decrees concern regulations on precursor
control, and assignment of specific tasks to different
ministries and other organizations;
--An eighth (and key) decree, concerning law enforcement,
has apparently been issued, but according to an MPS
official, it has not been made public due to its
"sensitivity." According to DEA, without knowing what is in
this decree and/or without access to MPS officers, DEA (and
other foreign law enforcement entities) are unable to know
what law enforcement training would be most useful;
--A preliminary analysis by a UNODC legal official concluded
that the decrees are "insufficient in terms of establishing
a proper drug control legal system." The decrees tend to
focus on drug control areas, which are "generally less
complex and controversial," the official added. There is
still a need for "new and proper" legal instruments in areas
such as procedures, conditions, systems for investigations,
international cooperation, extradition, controlled delivery,
and maritime cooperation, according to the analysis;
--Another problem is Vietnam's lack of judicial capacity.
UNODC's Dr. Buddenberg lamented that this issue is "still
not adequately addressed" by the donor community. Without
improved judicial capacity, concrete progress in this area
"will be difficult," she opined;
--While not directly related to the drug law, on May 29,
2003, the GVN issued Decree 58, which deals with the control
of import, export, and transit of drug substances,
precursors, additive drugs, and psychotropical substances.
According to the decree, only businesses authorized by the
Ministries of Health, Industry, and Public Security can
import/export drug substances, precursors, additive drugs
and psychotropical substances for specific, licit purposes.
The GVN has tasked MPS to coordinate with other concerned
ministries and agencies to manage and control the
import/export of these narcotic substances;
--While the counternarcotics law allows for law enforcement
techniques such as controlled deliveries, the GVN appears
reluctant to engage in this area and/or meaningfully
cooperate with DEA's Hanoi Country Office or other law
enforcement entities in Hanoi. DEA has informed MPS'
counternarcotics unit (C-17) about several major heroin
shipments transiting Vietnam. C-17 officials did not
noticeably respond or react to the DEA-provided information,
or at least did not share information about its follow-up.
According to DEA, implementing controlled delivery
techniques could have resulted in major seizures. MPS has
declined to accept DEA offers to fund operations.
Furthermore, MPS continues to maintain that it is unable to
share operational information with DEA due to "national
security considerations" (ref B).
5. (U) Increased seizures of opium, heroin, and
amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), followed by increased
investigations and prosecutions of traffickers:
--The GVN continued to arrest and prosecute drug traffickers
in 2004, with an increase of cases along the Cambodian
border . The total number of drug cases discovered by the
Border Army in 2003 was six times higher compared to 2002.
According to SODC, in 2003, there were 12,888 drug cases
with 20,441 offenders arrested. The seizures include 152.1
kilograms of heroin, 280.5 kilograms of opium, 734.5
kilograms of cannabis, 59,771 doses of unspecified drugs,
27,128 ATS pills, 236,830 tablets and ampoules. However, in
the first three months of 2004 compared to the same period
in 2003, there was a decline of 749 cases (24.6 percent),
528 offenders (14.2 percent), but 650 percent increase in
the amount of heroin seized (58.5/8.95 kilograms), and a 520
percent increase in the amount of synthetic drugs seized
(10,872/2,090 pills). Recently, Ho Chi Minh City witnessed
the biggest Ecstasy case ever in Vietnam. In a trial in
April, defendants were charged with trafficking 14,200 MDMA
pills. However, DEA and other law enforcement entities
continue to believe that most arrests involve relatively low-
level street dealers;
--In terms of seizures, media reports (refs C and D)
indicated a major seizure of 73 kilograms of heroin in June
and July 2003. This seizure represented about 128 percent
of the total amount of heroin seized in Vietnam (57.4
kilograms) during 2002. Despite this relatively impressive
seizure, the UN's "Mini-Dublin" 2003 report noted that
Vietnam remains a "major transit route for drug traffickers,
with Vietnamese traffickers demonstrating increased
sophistication in trafficking techniques and concealment."
The report further stated that Vietnam is atypical in that
very few drugs (at least until this recent seizure) are
seized at border crossings, indicating the "inefficiency of
Vietnam's border control capacity." According to an article
in "An Ninh Thu Do" ("Capital Security") newspaper, there
are only 50 enforcement officers in the Border Army and Sea
Police forces, who are in charge of the 8,000-kilometer land
border and 1 million square kilometers of territorial
waters. Attempting to address this issue, UNODC (supported
primarily by the USG), along with C-17, started a project in
January 2004 to improve interdiction and seizure capacity
within the GVN;
-- Concerning prosecutions, the GVN, according to law
enforcement sources, moves fairly vigorously to prosecute
those arrested. As noted above, those prosecuted are
generally street-level dealers. In addition, GVN law
enforcement authorities have not demonstrated the will to
pursue higher-level narcotics traffickers, according to DEA;
--Vietnam's threshold for the death penalty is among the
lowest in the world and drug sentences tend to be harsh.
Possession of 100 grams of heroin or 20 kilograms of opium
can result in the death penalty, according to SODC.
Although the number of offenses subject to the death penalty
has been reduced from 44 to 29 in the Revised Penal Code, in
recent years, most of the death sentences were handed down
on drug traffickers, according to MFA spokesman Le Dung in
April 2004. According to recent press accounts, in December
2003 the Tuyen Quang Provincial People's Court handed down 7
death penalties, 5 life sentences, and an aggregate of 139
years in jail to others during a trial against 59
defendants, who were variously charged with trafficking
illicit drugs and military arms and escaping from the
prison. In a prominent February 2004 case against 17
offenders, the Hanoi Appeals Court handed down death
sentences to four persons, including ringleader Chu Van Hieu
and life sentences to seven others. Hieu and accomplices
were convicted of trafficking 307 kilograms of opium and
14.6 kilograms of heroin. In another case, the HCMC
People's Court opened a trial in February against two
leaders of a major drug ring, Ngo Xuan Phuong and Ngo Duc
Minh, along with other 11 ring members. The gang had
organized transnational trafficking of over USD 1 million
worth of heroin, cannabis and ATS between Vietnam and Japan,
the Netherlands and UK. The offenders were charged with
possession of 36 kilograms of heroin, 50 kilograms of
marijuana, 15 kilograms of methamphetamine, and 6,000
ecstasy tablets. Four traffickers were sentenced to death
and four others were sentenced to life in jail, according to
a press report. Also in HCMC, the People's Court handed
down four death sentences, eight life sentences, and other
lengthy sentences in March to ring leader Chu Duc Hai and
his accomplices on charges of trafficking more than 22
kilograms of heroin between August 1999 and April 2002. In
Ha Tinh province, six traffickers including Duong Duc Son,
Nguyen Thi Tien, Phung Mai Khoi, Chiem Van Beo, Le Tung Lam,
and Nguyen Quoc Tuan received death sentences in February
2004 for trafficking 18 kilograms of heroin and 87.3
kilograms of opium;
--2003 year end statistics indicated a sharp increase in ATS
and ecstacy nationwide. According to SODC, during CY 2000 -
2003, authorities seized 118,140 synthetic pills, accounting
for an increase of 95,110 pills or 413 percent compared to
CY 1998 - 2000. The situation in the future will be "more
complicated", SODC's Col. Hieu speculated.
6. (U) Productive cooperation with regional neighbors,
including Laos, the PRC, Burma, and other countries to
reverse threatening trends in narcotics trafficking:
--During late 2003 and early 2004, Vietnam continued efforts
in regional and international cooperation. According to
press reports, a memorandum of understanding was signed
during a December 16 - 18 visit to Vietnam by Gen. Viktor
Cherkessov, President of Russia's State Committee on Illegal
Drugs. The MOU commits the two sides to implement an
earlier 1998 agreement and abide by international
conventions on illicit drug trafficking. Vietnam and Russia
agreed to unite in the fight against drug production and
trafficking, share information and collaborate in scientific
research on drugs and personnel training.
-- Also, during a December 22 - 23 trilateral Meeting on
Drug Control Cooperation among Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam
was held in Hanoi under the chairmanship of General Le Hong
Anh, Vietnamese Minister of Public Security and Vice Chair
of NCADP. Vietnam said during the meeting that it was
willing to "share experiences and exchange visits and
training programs with the two neighbors." At Vietnam's
initiative, a project proposal (for UNODC funding) that is
to be endorsed at the next meeting in Phnom Penh will be
designed to strengthen cross-border cooperation on drug
control between the three countries. Delegates also agreed
that the borders still remain hotspots for drug trafficking,
drug abuse, and drug-related crimes. They called for
stepping up information exchange to aid the fight;
-- In February, during a joint cabinet meeting between
Vietnam and Thailand, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan and his
Thai counterpart Chavalit Yongchaiyudh discussed, among
other security issues, drug cooperation. They agreed to set
up a joint working committee to monitor security
cooperation, including drug crimes;
-- In April, for the first time, Vietnam and China held a
conference on bilateral cooperation for security and
fighting crime at the border. In addition to the border and
security issues, the participants discussed measures to
combat drugs. Vietnam has also taken steps in the fight
against the use of drugs in sports;
-- Vietnamese Minister and Chairman of Sports Committee
Nguyen Danh Thai and Danish Ambassador to Vietnam Bjarne
Sorensen signed the Copenhagen Declaration on Anti-Doping on
April 22 in Hanoi;
-- In January, Taiwanese police informed their Vietnamese
counterparts of a seizure of 44 kilograms of heroin in
Kaohsiung port. The illegal shipment was reported as coming
from Nha Trang in Vietnam.
According to SODC, for the entire year of 2003 and the first
three months of 2004, there were 19 counternarcotics visits
to and 10 from Vietnam. Vietnam has existing
counternarcotics MOUs with the PRC, Burma, Thailand,
Cambodia, Laos, Hungary, Russia, and the United States. In
June 2003, Vietnam hosted the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting
on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) and Counterterrorism as well
as separate SOMTC+EU, SOMTC+China, SOMTC+3, and SOMTC+US
sessions. The meetings included a discussion on regional
drug issues. Specifically, the Burmese delegation discussed
the need for an enhanced regional approach. According to
DEA, there is no evidence that the attendance of GVN law
enforcement officials at regional or international fora has
led to enhanced cooperation, however.
7. (U) Continued eradication of domestic illicit poppy
cultivation and support of crop-substitution projects to
eliminate it completely:
--The USG officially estimates that there are about 2,300
hectares of opium poppy under cultivation in Vietnam.
However, there has not been a satellite-based opium yield
survey since 2000. This estimate is considered high by the
GVN, UNODC, and law enforcement sources. SODC reported that
in 2003 local authorities found and eradicated 102.061
hectares of poppy in nine provinces in the north and central
regions, including Bac Kan, Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Lao Cai,
Lang Son, Lai Chau, Son La, Nghe An, and Thanh Hoa. SODC's
Colonel Bien confirmed that "when we find poppy cultivation,
we eradicate it." SODC reported that 97 percent of
Vietnam's entire area of poppy cultivation has been
eradicated. Based on numerous provincial visits by embassy
officers, there appears to be a sincere effort to eradicate
poppy, when found. However, GVN officials have admitted
that complete eradication is unrealistic, given the
remoteness of mountainous areas in the northwest and extreme
poverty among ethnic minority populations who still use
opium for medicinal purposes. Regrowth in remote areas,
particularly in the northwest, remains a small, but
apparently persistent problem, as does limited cannabis
growth in areas near the Cambodian border;
--Regarding crop substitution, there is a major UNODC
project (with significant USG support) ongoing in the Ky Son
district of Nghe An province, one of the drug "hotspots" in
northern Vietnam (ref E). This project, currently in its
second phase, includes a crop substitution/alternative
development component, where various types of fruit trees
and other enterprises, such as bee raising, have been
implemented in areas formerly dedicated to poppy. UNODC's
Buddenberg viewed the first phase as "successful," with an
increase in agricultural production and corresponding drop
in drug activity. Based on an embassy monitoring visit in
April 2003, there has been progress in the livestock and
agricultural models (the focus of USG assistance); however,
the selection process of those receiving project assistance
was not clear, a problem that UNODC is now addressing. A
similar project planned in Son La province, another drug
area along the Lao border, will not proceed. Prior to the
proposed project signing, the GVN requested an alternate
project location and more autonomy in administering the
project. UNODC declined to meet the GVN's demands; after
deliberation, UNODC decided not to proceed;
--In addition to Ky Son, the GVN's Ministry of Agriculture
and Rural Development (MARD) has continued to support
projects in various provinces. The GVN, through MARD,
independently supports crop substitution projects in other
provinces, including Hoa Binh, Yen Bai, Ha Giang, Cao Bang,
and Lang Son. The GVN has tasked MARD to develop a national
crop substitution proposal to include in the GVN's 2006-2010
Master Plan. To avoid indirectly encouraging poppy
cultivation through subsidies for eradication, the GVN has
placed all crop substitution subsidies under national
programs to alleviate poverty in poor, mountainous regions.
8. (U) Continued focus on creating a legal framework to
address money laundering and other forms of financial
--At present, money laundering is not considered a major
issue in Vietnam because of the state-controlled banking
system and high transaction costs. However, partly due to
the international emphasis on terrorist financing, over the
last year there has been a growing awareness and concern
among State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) officials on the issue of
money laundering and financial crimes in general. SBV
officials have begun to work with the U.S., the IMF, and
other donors to identify and address weaknesses in their
banking system. However, without major reform (including
greater transparency), it will be difficult to introduce
sufficient safeguards. According to a 2003 UNODC report,
"Vietnam is obviously ill equipped to fight the escalation
in financial crimes unfolding in most of Southeast Asia."
While the State licenses wholly foreign-owned and joint
venture state-private banks to operate alongside the State
commercial banks, their market penetration and asset base
are small. Foreign exchange currency controls for private
and joint venture banks are considered to be strict.
However, the banking system in Vietnam is segmented and
lacks real, transparent, and easily verifiable controls.
Although banks are under the supervision of the State Bank,
that supervision is minimal. Vietnam is in the process of
implementing banking reform as part of their World Bank and
IMF loans, and some of that reform is relevant to these
issues (increased transparency, more effective regulation,
and overall stability of the banking system). It will be
critical that reform of the banking system is accompanied by
law enforcement training regarding financial crimes;
--There is currently no specific law in Vietnam regarding
money laundering, although it is mentioned in the
comprehensive counternarcotics law very generally, but
internal discussion has begun on the need to draft specific
regulations on this issue. According to UNODC, the GVN is
aware of the potential problem and "trying to take
preventive measures" such as inviting international experts
and participating in ILEA training. To that end, post had
lined up several appropriate State Bank officials to attend
ILEA-sponsored training on financial crimes in May 2003;
unfortunately, Vietnam's participation in the course was
cancelled by ILEA due to SARS.
9. (U) Increasing efforts to support drug awareness and
prevention, demand reduction, and treatment of drug users
and addicts:
-- The GVN views drug awareness and prevention as a
significant objective in its fight against drugs as well as
an integral part of its efforts to comply fully with the
1988 UN Drug Convention. The GVN has continued a steady
drumbeat of anti-drug propaganda, culminating in a drug
awareness week every June. During the week, youth and mass
organizations engage in various activities to spread the
anti-drug message. These include art contests, speeches,
and meetings. In a December 2003 event, Vietnam Radio
Corporation and SODC organized a ceremony to award prizes to
the winners of the "anti-drug soap opera writing
competition" for transmission on the Voice of Vietnam's
radio program. Currently, SODC is helping with another
contest titled "The Entire Nation Unites To Prevent and
Combat Drug Crimes." Also, in the past year, state-
controlled television has begun a weekly program called "SOS
Drugs" and has been airing a series of anti-heroin spots.
According to the UNODC's Buddenberg, Vietnam and UNODC will
be signing an agreement to implement a demand reduction
project (supported mainly by Italy) "within the next few
-- By the end of 2003, official GVN statistics reported
160,700 registered addicts, although the UN and other
agencies suspect the actual number is substantially higher.
According to Nguyen Vi Hung, Director of Hanoi Department
for Social Evils Prevention, by March 2003 there were 13,736
drug users in Hanoi. However, it was estimated that
approximately 2,000 drug users in the capital city had not
been identified or registered. That official figure is 11
percent higher than 2002. The Ministry of Labor, War
Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) is the GVN ministry
tasked with providing drug treatment services. Since 2001,
emboffs have visited most drug treatment centers in northern
Vietnam as well as some in the south (ref F). According to
SODC, there are now more than 100 big and small centers at
the provincial level, which have a capacity of between 100
to 1,000 addicts each. There are also 700 centers at lower
levels. Provincial authorities run most centers, but some
are supported by mass organizations, such as the Youth
Union. Drug treatment centers range from the most basic to
almost resort-like. Most suffer from a lack of physical and
material resources. The addict population is a combination
of those who enter voluntarily and others who are undergoing
"compulsory" treatment. Drug treatment, as with other
public sector services in Vietnam, suffers from a lack of
resources. However, the GVN has continued efforts to expand
drug treatment in 2004. According to SODC, of 160,700
addicts, approximately 36,478 had been assigned "compulsory"
--According to MOLISA's Dr. Sac, only a few drug treatment
centers, most of which are in the South, experienced
escapes, likely due in part to a 2002 GVN decree that
mandated minimum stays of one year. No such escapes have
been reported in 2003, however. Vocational training in the
centers is uneven, ranging from good to nonexistent. Lack
of resources has had a negative impact on the GVN's plan to
improve drug treatment in one of Vietnam's "hotspot"
provinces, Nghe An. Opening of a 700-bed center is the
ultimate goal of this province, but due to funding
constraints, this has been delayed, according to Dr. Sac.
Presently, there are "only about 160 addicts" staying in the
partially completed facility, he added;
--In addition to drug treatment centers, those with less
severe addictions may be treated under a community-based
treatment scheme (ref G). Despite apparently good
intentions, it appears that implementation is rather thin
and uneven, with "peer pressure" the main component of
treatment following detoxification. Community-based
treatment nonetheless at least provides addicts with a
supportive infrastructure (and limited vocational training)
that would otherwise not be available;
--During its June 2003 session, the National Assembly
approved a five-year pilot project on post-treatment
vocational training and employment developed by the HCMC
People's Committee. Nguyen Minh Triet, Chairman of Ho Chi
Minh City Party Committee and CPV Politburo member, said "I
would bet my political career on the success of this
program." The one to three year program is compulsory for
those judged at high risk for returning to drugs. It is
voluntary for others who have finished their compulsory
treatment and judged less at risk. According to Nguyen
Hoang Mai of the National Assembly's Social Affairs
Committee, the goal of the program is to try to reduce the
relapse rate (generally estimated at about 85 percent,
similar to western countries) by providing recovering
addicts with skills that will enable them to assume
"productive lives after treatment." The pilot project is
now underway in HCMC. Le Thanh Hai, Chairman of HCMC
People's Committee, pointed out that vocational training and
employment opportunities for addicts is among eight major
issues to be "definitely solved" in 2004. As a result of
the project, 200 former drug users who have completed drug
rehabilitation and vocational training have started work at
a plastics production factory which opened on April 20 in
HCMC's Cu Chi District. As part of the effort, more than 50
enterprises in HCMC have invested about USD 3 million to
provide vocational training and jobs to over 10,000 drug
addicts who are now undergoing treatment at the city's
treatment centers. To encourage businesses to employ
recovering addicts, Nguyen Thanh Tai, Vice Chairman of the
HCMC People's Committee, suggested preferential policies for
the businesses and enterprises. The enterprises will receive
preferential allocation of land, workshop building,
operational funds and other benefits such as subsidy support
to vocational training, simple and fast investment
procedures, and lower transportation costs. In March 2004,
the Youth Brigade held a ground-breaking ceremony at Nhi
Xuan industrial park in Hoc Mon district, HCMC. According
to the plan, the park will provide jobs to 10,000 workers,
of whom between 5,000 and 6,000 are former addicts. Under
this program, factories and enterprises will employ about
14,000 recovering addicts by the end of 2004.
10. (U) With a narcotics agreement signed between the
United States and Vietnam, closer counternarcotics
cooperation in the form of training and assistance to
Vietnam is expected to improve in the time ahead, especially
once the two countries begin implementation of the projects.
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