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Border drug battle to get push in new year

Border drug battle to get push in new year

Cambodian authorities have signalled their intent to prioritise cross-border trafficking, amid a planned boost in funding from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Deputy Prime Minister Ke Kim Yan met this week with regional UNODC representative Jeremy Douglas to discuss an array of issues, including stepping up efforts to stop drugs pouring across the Cambodia-Laos border.

Speaking to the Post on Wednesday after the meeting, Douglas said his agency was preparing to disburse some $2 million in funding across the region to beef up training of officers at regional border liaison offices and purchase equipment.

“The vast majority of drugs coming into this country are coming in through that border with Laos,” said Douglas, who met with several high-ranking government officials during this three-day visit.

“The volumes of drugs that [Cambodian authorities] said they seized was just under 2 tonnes, the vast majority up there.”

He said Cambodian authorities would recruit new officers to work within the border liaison offices (BLOs), a 15-year-old project that establishes offices to house members of different law enforcement agencies specifically to work together on border crime.

“[The Cambodian authorities] have agreed to expand the border liaison office structure and to invest in it,” Douglas said, saying resources would flow to the Kingdom’s borders with Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.

“We will be investing in it, basically training on drug detection and interception and intelligence exchange between countries.”

The BLOs each have counterparts in neighbouring countries, allowing regional counterparts to combat transnational trafficking rings together.

Kim Yan was unavailable to comment yesterday. Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, also met with the UNODC representatives yesterday.

“With the ASEAN integration, the widening of the flow of capital and drug crimes will also increase,” Vyrith said.

“We need measures to prevent them, and the UNODC Asia and Pacific offices have asked Cambodia to cooperate and strengthen mechanisms to check for drugs at border crossings and containers.”

Cambodian officials and the UNODC also discussed creating a new centre for drug users to move them away from the prison system. The UN has long advocated for community-based treatment options.

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