Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Drug bust convictions skyrocket

Drug bust convictions skyrocket

Drug bust convictions skyrocket

The number of drug-related convictions in Cambodia nearly quadrupled last year, a sobering statistic officials yesterday blamed on the nation’s increasing popularity as a transit point for international drug traffickers.

“Drug criminals continue to use Cambodia as a targeted place of drug producing and drug trafficking,” Interior Minister Sar Kheng said in Phnom Penh yesterday at the annual meeting of the National Authority for Combating Drugs.

These activities were “dangerous” for Cambodian society, he said, disrupting peace and security and impacting on people’s livelihoods, as users were spending money on drugs instead of staples such as food and shelter.

About 700 government officials from throughout the Kingdom attended yesterday’s meeting, during which the NACD released its enforcement statistics for 2011, which showed dramatic increases in several categories of drug enforcement.

The number of drug-related convictions had shot to 951 last year from 248 in 2010, NACD chairman Ke Kim-yan said.

Drug-related arrests also jumped considerably to more than 1,300 in 2011, compared with 864 in 2010.

The number of drug raids conducted by authorities increased by 150 per cent.

Experts said yesterday these statistics were consistent with increased levels of trafficking in the country.

David Harding, an international adviser on drugs for the NGO Friends International, said he had seen a stabilisation of drug use across Cambodia in the past two years, and these figures were “more a reflection of an increase in traffic rather than an increase in use”.

Olivier Lemert, country manager for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, also pointed to the salience of Cambodia’s trafficking problem.

“The main point of all this is that Cambodia remains a key transit country for ATS [amphetamine-type stimulants] and heroin and is being increasingly targeted by international drug trafficking organisations,” Lemert said by email yesterday.

A UNODC report released last November also observed increased levels of trafficking, saying: “The manufacture, trafficking and use of illicit drugs is a significant and worsening problem in Cambodia.  

“There are indicators of increasing numbers of local and international drug criminals using the country as a manufacturing base and a transit route for ATS and other drugs.”

Lement said a “comprehensive response” was needed, “in­cluding, in particular, access to voluntary-based . . . treatment, based in the community”.

Sar Kheng called for greater co-operation with Laotian and Thai officials to help stem trafficking across those borders.

The UNODC report says there is “some likelihood” a recent Thai anti-drug campaign could lead traffickers to smuggle more drugs into Cambodia.

Despite the encouraging  arrest and conviction statistics, Harding said authorities were not catching “the big producers, the big traffickers, the big distributors”.

“We’re not . . .  seeing arrests made with a large amount of drugs,” he said.

These observations were supported by NACD statistics which revealed that, despite the increased number of raids, the amount of drugs confiscated had increased by a negligible amount, from 31 tonnes in 2010 to 34 tonnes this past year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at [email protected]
With assistance from Kristin Lynch

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh authorities ban march for Human Rights Day

    Phnom Penh authorities have banned a planned march as local NGOs and workers’ unions gear up to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Monday, with a youth group leader saying they would march nonetheless. The UN

  • Government deports 235 Chinese scammers

    THE Immigration Department of the Ministry of Interior on Thursday deported 235 Chinese nationals, 35 of whom were female, via the Phnom Penh International Airport for their part in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) online money extortion scam. The deportees were arrested on November 26 over the

  • Phnom Penh’s Jet’s Container Night Market shuts down

    The famous Jet’s Container Night Market in central Phnom Penh has shut down due to the high cost of the land rental, company representatives claim. Jet’s Container Night Market is the largest such market in Phnom Penh. It operated for just over two

  • International buyers snap up new locally produced watch

    A Cambodian entrepreneur has launched a stylish high-end watch, hoping to promote the Khmer creative talent and increase demand for the Kingdom’s products abroad. Designer Seth Pitu launched his brand PU a mere 60 days ago, and hopes to combine traditional Khmer art with sleek