The government’s controversial draft drug law was set to be debated at the National Assembly in December following its approval by Prime Minister Hun Sen in July, officials said yesterday.
“This law punishes [traffickers] more seriously than the old law, because drug traffickers can be sentenced to life in prison and fined, so it can reduce drug trafficking,” Khieu Samon, acting director of the anti-drug department at the Interior Ministry, said.
Rights groups have previously expressed concerns about the draft law, arguing that certain provisions could invite abuse of drug users accused of being “addicts” and subsequently forced into drug treatment.
Khieu Samon told the Post officials had been involved in 709 cases and had arrested 1,793 people involved in drug use and drug trafficking so far this year.
Am Sam Ath, senior investigator for rights group Licadho, said an increase in drug raids did not necessarily imply a decrease in drug trafficking.
“The authorities should try to crack down on drug trafficking and drug production venues rather than arresting drug users, who are the victims,” he said.