The National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) said the production, trafficking and consumption of illegal drugs in the region, and the world, is escalating and becoming an increasing concern, urging authorities to accelerate property confiscation from criminals.
Deputy Prime Minister and NACD head Ke Kim Yan expressed these concerns said this when he presided over an International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking event on Tuesday.
Held at Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich Center, the event’s theme was “Joining Together for a Drug-Free Life and Society”.
“The situation and trend of the production, trafficking and consumption of illegal drugs in the region and world hasn’t decreased in the past few years. Instead it has escalated and become more complicated, posing a serious challenge to law enforcement,” Kim Yan said to over 3,000 people in attendance.
He said drug gangs used covert cross-border trafficking and eluded the authorities when bringing illegal drugs into Cambodia from around the world, from areas such as South America, Africa, the Golden Crescent and the Golden Triangle.
“It continues to happen and is affecting the welfare and livelihoods of people and the security, order and social development [of the Kingdom], requiring the government to take tough measures,” Kim Yan said.
At the event, government officials also destroyed 64kg of drugs that were seized from traffickers. The drugs were valued at about $2 million.
Most of the drugs were methamphetamine, with three tonnes of marijuana and khat, a chewable stimulant, also being torched. The NACD said there has been a decline in the consumption and trafficking of drugs in the Kingdom due to enforcement efforts.
“We destroyed 64kg of drugs worth about $2 million. And based on our evaluation of activities, traffickers, markets and consumers, the trafficking in, and consumption of drugs has declined."
“We found that the users have declined by 12 percent. The decline is the result of law enforcement operations, with rewards proving to be a good incentive for officers,” Kim Yan said.
Yan said the NACD had appealed to the courts to speed up the seizure of property belonging to criminals. “I call for this measure to be accelerated,” he said.
Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana, who attended the event, told reporters his ministry has also asked the courts to accelerate procedures to try suspects in drug cases and speed up the delivery of verdicts.
“We can seize their property, but it always takes too long because there are many drug cases and delays in delivering verdicts,” he said.
Sieng Sok, the deputy prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said there are always a large amount of the drugs in the Kingdom because the criminals see it as a good business opportunity, adding that drugs damage society and impact youths.
“It damages health and motivates them to commit crimes, such as murder, kidnapping, rape, theft and domestic violence. [Drugs also cause] social turmoil and affect public order,” he said.
In the first five months of this year, the NACD recorded 9,364 drug users, with 7,056 addicts among them. Some 2,870 cases were investigated, 5,702 criminals arrested and 93kg of drugs seized.