Police in Kampong Cham province have instructions to round up addicts and send them for “rehabilitation”. But after scores of complaints were recently filed by villagers claiming they had run into pill-popping police, the force is looking closer to home.
Brigadier General Pen Rath, Kampong Cham provincial police chief, yesterday appealed to all of his subordinates who take methamphetamines to turn themselves in by the end of the year.
If the drug-taking officers confess, he said, they will not be punished other than being sent to a rehab centre.
“If the involved police officials do not come forward and confess, those police officials will have to be punished without any special considerations when our experts find out that they are involved with drug-taking,” Rath wrote in the announcement sent out to police in the province on Tuesday.
He added that he hoped the amnesty could serve as a pilot that could be replicated in other provinces. If the police are afraid to approach their superiors to tell them about their addictions, under the new scheme they will also be allowed to have the message passed on via their parents.
The amnesty ends January 1, according to Rath, and officers found to be taking banned substances after that date will be punished like ordinary criminals.
“If a police official consumes drugs, he has to come out and confess, or else we will take measures according to the law,” he said. “If we find [police taking drugs after the deadline], they will be sent to court and might be sent to jail.”
Kirth Chantharith, National Police spokesman, did not respond to a request for comment on the new scheme.
Police are normally required to pass a medical test and undergo a “drug related” assessment, Rath said.
Since police began widespread crackdowns on drug traffickers several years ago, offenders have increasingly turned from trafficking pills to importing the equipment for experimental laboratories and mixing new chemicals with the drugs.
Methamphetamine use and trafficking is a growing concern in Cambodia, where seizures of meth pills nearly tripled in a single year, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2013 World Drug Report.
Cambodia was also one of several countries in 2011 to seize a record amount of crystal meth, though the 19 kilogram bust was small compared with other countries’ records, the report said.