A ministry of Interior report on drug crimes in the first six months of this year said 16,307 people were identified as suspects, 8,911 were detained for trafficking and other offences, 5,306 users were successfully treated and released from rehabilitation centres, while 3,193 addicts continue to receive treatment.
The report emphasised that none who were arrested for only using drugs had been jailed.
“As global and regional drug production and trafficking trends continue to grow and become more sophisticated, Cambodia continues to be affected by the flow of drugs into the country by land, air and sea.
“In the first half of this year, large-scale drug cases were found and cracked down along the northeast border and in the west and east of the country,” the report said.
Lim Tong Huot, the director of the National Authority for Combating Drug’s (NACD) Legislation, Education and Rehabilitation Department, told The Post on Monday that the NACD had urged anti-drug units in the capital and provinces to strengthen their efforts and create a coordination committee for the treatment of drug addicts in communes and districts.
“When the police find drugs addicts, they consider them to be victims. The police cooperate with parents and guardians to enable addicts to receive treatment and rehabilitation at state-run centres based in the provinces,” he said.
The Ministry of Health has expanded the number of community-based drug treatment centres to 431, Tong Huot said.
Of those, he said, two are located in national hospitals, 24 in provincial hospitals, 73 in referral hospitals and 332 in health centres.
At a meeting on Thursday with Gloria Lai, the Asia regional director for the International Drug Policy Consortium, NACD secretary-general Meas Virith said Cambodia had busted thousands of criminals transporting and dealing drugs and sent many of them to court for criminal prosecution.
“Many have been imprisoned but no drug users have been jailed because the government has treated drug addicts as victims who need to be treated and rehabilitated free of charge,” he said.
The ministry’s report said that anti-drug police broken 4,175 drugs cases in the first six months of this year – an increase of nine per cent on the same period last year.
It also detained 8,911 people, up 17 per cent, and seized 341kg of illegal drugs – a 135 per cent increase from last year.
It said there were 337 more cases than the 3,838 in the first six months of last year. And of the 4,175 drug cases, 2,531 involved traffickings, 1,624 were for consumption, 19 for growing drugs and one involved illegal production.
Some 13 nationalities were detained, the report said, with Cambodian nationals numbering 8,724, including 624 women.
Of 187 foreign nationals, including 40 women who were held, 92 were Vietnamese, of which 30 were women, and 63 were Chinese nationals, including eight women.
There were 11 Thai nationals, including two women, six Laotian, three Nigerian, two Norwegian, two Romanian, two Russian, two Taiwanese, a Dutch, an Indonesian, a South Korean and a Turkish national as well.
“Cambodia has clear-cut measures and no addict is left alone. They must receive treatment at health centres or hospitals in their community free of discrimination,” Virith said.
Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation spokesman Touch Channy said addicts were supervised at the centres by police and Military Police personnel, but the authorities faced difficulties.
“We continue to rehabilitate and treat victims of drug addiction. The first step is to detoxify them of drugs, and then they do exercises and other activities in the centres. Finally, we train them in life skills,” he said.
Am Sam Ath, the deputy director of monitoring at human rights organisation Licadho, said drug treatment centres seemed to have improved but were not yet up to standard.
“We would like to make further adjustments to rehabilitation centres and bring their treatment to a higher level,” he said.
Despite the government’s policy of providing such services for free, he said some parents were still paying for treatment.