More than five tonnes of drugs and precursor chemicals were destroyed to mark the June 28 International Day against Drug Abuse, observed this year under the theme “People first: stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention”.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng used the occasion to instruct authorities at all levels to continue to crack down on drug offences, noting that they are still an unfortunate occurrence in the country.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Chreung Khmao said on the day that 5.713 tonnes of illicit narcotics and chemicals used for manufacturing drugs were burned.

“The drug destruction and laboratory committee of the General Secretariat of the National Authority for Combating Drugs [NACD] made the decision to destroy them,” he explained.

He added that 336.5 tonnes of chemicals which include highly volatile acids and toxic chemicals could not be safely destroyed by burning, but the committee was investigating effective ways to neutralise them.

According to Khmao, there are many ongoing prosecution and appeal cases. Any drugs that were seized as evidence would be destroyed as soon as the court had completed its work.

Sar Kheng noted that the import of drugs from the “Golden Triangle” into Cambodia through the north-eastern provinces of the country is still on the rise. Criminals are also continuing to attempt to manufacture synthetic drugs by diverting legitimate chemicals for illegitimate ends, he warned.

“Major drug offences, like trafficking and large-scale manufacturing, have been successfully suppressed, but small-scale offences persist, causing concerns among some members of the public that we cannot control the problem,” he said.

According to Sar Kheng, on average, around 10 drug cases are discovered per day in seven to 10 of the Kingdom’s provinces and capital.

“This trend is not declining. It is not just in Phnom Penh, but in the rural provinces that drugs are spreading. We need to control this so that young people do not become involved with drugs,” he added.

During a June 28 meeting with nearly 20,000 garment factory workers in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen noted that the elimination of drugs is the goal of the implementation of the “safe village-commune” policy, and that the policy aims to make sure drugs are not used or distributed at the Kingdom’s factories and large enterprises.

According to the NACD, in 2022, law enforcement forces made 6,390 drug busts, arresting 15,002 people and confiscating 14.919 tonnes of illegal narcotics.