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Are your cashews shelled by Vietnamese inmates?

Human Rights Watch: Drug rehab inmates in Vietnam forced to shell nuts for export
Vietnam labor camps 2011 09 07Enlarge
Taken from footage captured by Human Rights Watch, this image purportedly shows inmates at a Vietnamese state-run drug rehab center. Vietnamese drug addicts, when caught, are often forced to shell cashew nuts while in prison, Human Rights Watch alleges. (Human Rights Watch/Screengrab)

Some producers of sportswear, nuts and other Vietnamese exports to the U.S. appear to rely on forced labor in drug rehab camps, according to Human Rights Watch.

The watchdog group's latest report, available here, alleges that Vietnam's 130,000-plus drug addicts are often thrown into rehab camps doubling as factories.

Shelling cashews, according to the report, is the most common task imposed on addicts. Vietnam is the largest supplier of cashews to the U.S.

"First there were blood diamonds from the Congo. Then blood rubies from Burma. Could blood cashews from Vietnam be next?" writes Time Magazine's Andrew Marshall in article on the allegations.

If U.S. prisons compel inmates to churn out license plates and clean highways, what's so bad about forcing drug addicts to shell nuts?

Because the inmates are also sporadically beaten and shocked in a fashion that amounts to torture, says Human Rights Watch.

Vietnam's government, however, insists the report is "groundless," according to the AP.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/are-your-cashews-shelled-vietnamese-inmates