Vietnam will free about 900 sex workers next year from prisons, euphemistically named rehabilitation centres.
The sex workers will be able to return home when a newly amended administrative law comes into effect at the start of July 2013, according to the Thanh Nien newspaper.
This is a big change of view on how to deal with prostitution, Le Duc Hien, deputy head of the government's department for social vices prevention, was quoted as saying.
Since July this year, sex workers have no longer been jailed when picked up by the authorities, but are now fined up to five million dong (US$240 dollars) instead, Thanh Nien said.
Vietnam has maintained special prisons for drug users and sex workers for years despite international calls for their closure. A report by US-based Human Rights Watch released a year ago said drug users were made to perform forced labour. It said the
prisons were rife with physical abuse.