National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) secretary-general Meas Virith said drug trafficking is an organised crime in Southeast Asia and officials from ASEAN countries are committed to combating it.
He made the statement during the virtual 41st ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting on Drug Control on December 1. Chaired by Indonesia, the meeting was also attended by representatives from other ASEAN countries’ drug control institutions.
The meeting is a continuation of the 40th ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting on Drug Control that Cambodia hosted in 2019.
Virith told The Post on December 2 that the meeting discussed measures taken last year to jointly prevent cross-border drug trafficking, as well as jointly eliminating major drug ringleaders in each ASEAN country and the region.
He said that in order to efficiently combat drug syndicates, a decision from the meeting was to set up the “1511 plan”, which is to be jointly implemented by countries within the Mekong region – China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand.
The plan is a strong message to drug syndicates, indicating the countries will be increasing efforts to monitor and eradicate drug trafficking activities in the region.
“Last year Cambodia presented an annual report on drug prevention and law enforcement when we hosted the meeting. We made many achievements related to drug control.
“This year, we decided to implement what we have discussed on seven points to submit to the ministers of those ASEAN countries and will continue to implement what we have agreed,” he said.
Virith said many issues were discussed further and various responsibilities were assigned to each ASEAN member states.
ASEAN countries will jointly implement various measures to address the issue including education, dissemination of information, relevant data collection and repression.
“Together, we will work to prevent the flow of drug trafficking via sea and by air. Then there will be prevention groups at the border and a specific drug inspection team at the post office,” he said.
On December 2, Good Neighbours Cambodia Programme Development Manager Sok Dou said based on his observation, the drug situation remained a pressing issue among Cambodians, especially the youth.
“The drug problem does not seem to be improving, in fact, drug use cases are increasing and spreading more into rural areas.”
Cambodia cannot combat the drug problem alone, it requires cooperation from all countries in the region, including Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, he said.
“The drug problem is a systemic and very complicated issue. Law enforcement should be strict and enforcement officers should not be afraid of drug ringleaders. If we cannot deal with the drug lord, any level of drug prevention education or outreach measures will never be enough to eradicate the problem,” he said.
Dou said all ASEAN countries should plan and implement an efficient drug prevention mechanism. He said many countries still have many drug users, which meant that the region still lacks a fully effective mechanism to combat the drug problem.