Interior Minister Sar Kheng intends to create a working group to crack down on drug use and trafficking by law enforcement authorities, he announced at a meeting at the ministry on Wednesday.
The announcement comes in the midst of a drug crackdown that began at the start of the year.
“I have asked to create the working group in charge of fighting against drugs in the Interior Ministry,” Kheng said. “Please do not forget that in the ministry previously there have been police who both sold drugs and used drugs.”
Interior Ministry Undersecretary of State Chan Ean would head the working group, Kheng said. Kheng added that he has asked the Royal Cambodia Armed Forces (RCAF), the Ministry of Defence and the military police “to take the same approach”.
According to Meas Vyrith, the secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, a plan for the working group is being drafted.
Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, saluted the move. “Forming a working group to investigate drug trafficking and drug use by police officers indicates the government’s realisation of the problem and its intention to address it,” Kol said. “We believe it would be more effective if the working group members comprise . . . different competent authorities.”
Naly Pilorge, of rights group Licadho, was more sceptical.
“This plan is like asking robbers to investigate robberies,” she said. “If there is any chance to pursue drug use and/or trafficking amongst police officers, investigators must be independent.”