The National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) has said that more than 3,000
citizens are addicted to drugs in 17 provinces across the country. NACD deputy
secretary-general, Khieu Sopheak, said the government was concerned at the
potential dangers this poses to society.
"We are concerned drug addicts
will end up outside society, and that without health care and education they
could become criminals," Sopheak said. "That will cause a burden to both their
families and the government."
Sopheak's comments came after the NACD
completed its annual review of the national drugs situation for 2002. He said
figures in the report, which is as yet unreleased, showed the amount of
amphetamine tablets seized last year was nearly double that of the previous
year. The number of drugs raids was up one third.
Police conducted 83
raids and arrested 232 suspected drugs traffickers, among them citizens of
Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore and Cameroon. More than 130,000 tablets of
amphetamine type substances (ATS) were seized, along with 1.9 kilograms of
heroin, 1,200 kilograms of marijuana, and around $8,000 in counterfeit US
Sopheak said the NACD, which operates out of the Ministry of
Interior (MoI), would open a 100-person treatment center in the capital by the
end of the year.
He acknowledged the country was used as a transit point
between 1992 and 1995, but had now become a place where drugs were both
manufactured and consumed.
One effect of that, he said, was that the
market price of ATS had declined from $5 a tablet to around $1, which had fueled
a rise in the number of teenagers abusing the substance.
Cambodia would try to combat the regional flow of drugs by 2015, a goal to which
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) recently committed
Graham Shaw, international program officer at the UN Office
of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), agreed more people here were taking drugs, but felt
drug transiting through Cambodia was also rising.
"It is clear that
increasing numbers of young people are taking drugs, and it is also quite clear
that a large quantity of drugs is passing through Cambodia - for example from
Laos along the Mekong, and from Vietnam," he said. "We believe this situation is
As for the country's commitment to meet the 2015
commitment, Shaw said it would only be possible with international
"Cambodia has the potential to meet the 2015 goal, but
[success will] depend on the international community's support and the
commitment of each part of government to develop capacity and address the
related problems of drugs and corruption," Shaw said.