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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Plan for rehab centres released, questioned

Plan for rehab centres released, questioned

A statement on the National Police website announced intentions to build drug treatment centres in the capital of every province, but one anti-drug authority called the practicality of such a plan into question.

According to the statement, National Police anti-drug chief Mok Chito claimed the project will begin in January 2017.

“The royal government plans to create drug rehabilitation treatment centres in all provincial capitals across the country,” the statement reads.“

At present, there are seven state treatment centres . . . This is not proportional to the number of drug addicts, which is more than 10,000, with only 40 percent receiving treatment,” Chito is quoted as saying.

A recent government report showed 9,802 people have been arrested for drug-related crimes this year, and estimates there are 18,554 addicts in the country.

But Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, questioned whether there was sufficient funding for such an ambitious project. “It is a theoretical plan,” Vyrith said yesterday.

He also questioned whether there are enough people in need of rehab. “If there is no demand, why would we create them?”

“We will run out of money paying the staff salary,” he added.

The effectiveness of the centres is also questionable. A 2010 Human Rights Watch report found that beatings and torture were common in such rehabilitation centres, and described the forced and arbitrary detention of patients, while labelling the treatment itself ineffective.

Pin Sokhom, with NGO Mith Samlanh, said the commitment from the government to open rehabilitation facilities would only be a starting point, fearing that officials are unprepared to follow through.

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