Deputy National Police chief Mok Chito on Monday laid out five steps for officials to follow when carrying out a crackdown on drugs.
According to Chito’s guidelines: “First, you must continue implementing skilled measures and ask for permission from the leadership to crack down on drugs offences."
“Second, you must skilfully examine information and clearly identify it to carry out a crackdown. Third, during the crackdown process, you must inform the local police of the matter immediately."
“Fourth, you are not authorised to carry out a random operation without clear evidence. Fifth, officials who perform illegal actions and disciplinary violations will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
A Military Police report on Monday said before releasing the guidelines that Anlong Veng district Military Police commander Nguon Thirith on Sunday had carried out a crackdown in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district.
In the process, he had detained a male suspect identified as Kim Nieng, 25, who is a farmer living in the province’s Trapaing Prasat district.
The report continued that during the operation, the authorities confiscated five big packages of ICE and a smaller package that totalled 500.67g, a mobile phone, a bedroom cabinet (for storing drugs), 100,000 riel ($25), a scale and a hatchet.
After carrying out the crackdown, Military Police officials have been compiling the case in accordance with procedures. Rithy could not be reached for comment on the case on Monday.
Similarly, a Phnom Penh Municipal minor crimes police office report showed that as of last weekend, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court was questioning 17 suspects after authorities cracked down on Rock Entertainment Centre in Phnom Penh in connection with the illegal abuse, facilitation and management of addictive substances weighing a total of 49.44kg.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Ly Sophana could not be reached for comment.
Thirteen Chinese nationals were also taken in by the authorities to be questioned and they launched an investigation in accordance with proceedings at the Phnom Penh Municipal Police Headquarters. But Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief Sar Thet on Monday could not be reached for comment on the case.
During the operation, the Phnom Penh Municipal Minor Crimes Office reported that the authorities had detained 311 persons, of whom 256 were male and 55 female. The authorities seized evidence to be used during the interrogation.
The report continued that after an investigation, authorities found 17 Cambodian suspects (16 males and one female) and 13 Chinese nationals in connection with the illegal abuse, facilitation and management of addictive substances.
With Thet and Sophana’s approval, 281 persons signed a contract and were escorted to their homes by a sponsor who had to guarantee they would discipline them.
Soeung Sen Karuna, a spokesperson for human rights group Adhoc, said drug trafficking cases in Cambodia today are a cause for concern. Cases like the Rock Entertainment Centre surprise the entire nation, but authorities do not disclose the real owner of the location.
“Overall, we want all the authorities to do their jobs professionally and with precision and improve their capabilities. We can see it if we compare it to forest crimes, they see the trucks hauling big timber, the authorities still have a lot of trouble preventing it."
“So when people stick packets of drugs in their tiny pockets, how hard will it be to prevent that? Authorities are required to have proper skills. If they don’t, it’ll be more and more detrimental to our society,” he said.
In the meantime, the Phnom Penh administration issued a letter to Kith Theang, the owner of the Rock Entertainment Centre.
The letter was signed by Huot Hay, the vice-governor of Phnom Penh Municipal Hall on February 25, 2019, on the revocation of licence No 085/18 dated June 28, 2018, issued by the administration.
The letter said that the Phnom Penh administration had issued a Karaoke business licence for the Rock Entertainment Centre with the owner claiming that addictive substance abuse would not be allowed in the centre.
Theang had signed a contract with the authorities promising that he would disallow the traffic, distribution and use of addictive substances on the premises.
If the contractual clause was breached, then Theang was to allow the authorities to close the centre and he would take responsibility under drug concealment and other laws.
“On February 23, 2019, authorities cracked down on the Rock Entertainment Centre, finding 48.810kg of drug and detaining 311 people. Accordingly, you have breached the contract, so the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall has decided to cancel the licence from the signing date,” the letter read.