The complex and ever-changing landscape of drug proliferation worldwide is casting shadows on all nations, including Cambodia, acknowledged general Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) under the Ministry of Interior.

His comments were delivered at the 44th Meeting of ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters (ASOD) via video conference, hosted by Myanmar on July 6, according to the NACD report.

In his address to Southeast Asian anti-drug institution leaders, Vyrith emphasised Cambodia’s ongoing struggle with threats linked to drug production, trafficking, and usage, mirroring the challenges faced by the rest of the region and the globe.

ASOD meetings serve as a critical platform to deliberate on appropriate countermeasures against drug issues plaguing certain countries, and to revitalise the spirit of the 43rd ASOD held in Malaysia.

“The rapidly evolving and complex drug situation in the region and the world has affected every country, including Cambodia. Cambodia has been addressing it by implementing a wide, integrated approach by adhering to equity principles, non-discrimination, respecting human rights in accordance with the ASEAN Work Plan and ASEAN Cooperation Plan, focusing on priority areas of cooperation,” Vyrith expounded.

The NACD disclosed that Cambodia had initiated a campaign against illegal drugs in 2017, emphasising prevention education for all stakeholders, both public and private.

In the first half of this year, NACD said that Cambodia clamped down on 3,143 drug-related crimes, seizing approximately 838 kilograms of drugs and apprehending a total of 7,480 suspects.

Comparatively, last year witnessed the suppression of 6,390 drug crimes, the arrest of 15,002 individuals, and the confiscation of 14,919.47 kilograms of various drugs.

Drug traffickers have been smuggling drugs through Cambodia through diverse means, such as land, sea, postal services, and airways. While some drugs find their market within the country, others merely transit en route to a third country, the NACD pointed out.

On June 28, the nation observed International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, themed “People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention”. Rehabilitation and treatment forge another core aspect of Cambodia’s approach. The nation extends these services via a national centre and community-based treatment facilities housed within hospitals and health centres.

Over 5 tonnes of illicit drugs and chemicals used in their manufacture were incinerated. On the same day, interior minister Sar Kheng urged authorities at all levels to persist in their efforts to prevent and suppress drug activity, due to significant drug offences transpiring at the local level.

“The drug import from the Golden Triangle into Cambodia through the north-eastern provinces of the country is still on the rise, meanwhile criminals are still trying to smuggle synthetic drugs into Cambodia by processing legally imported chemicals into illegal drug substances,” Kheng highlighted.