Prime Minister Hun Manet has clarified that maintaining a database of dismissed state employees does not violate human right, but promotes them. 

He said he has agreed to a request by Minister of Interior Sar Sokha, who asked to work with the Ministry of National Defence and the Ministry of Civil Service to prepare a “blacklist” of civil servants dismissed from their positions due to involvement with illegal drugs. The database will prevent former employees from finding positions with another state institution for as as-yet undecided period of time.

The premier explained that the list would encourage citizens to avoid becoming involved with drugs.

His remarks were delivered at the February 20 closing ceremony of the National Authority for Combating Drugs’ (NACD) annual meeting, held to review its 2023 work and outline its working direction for 2024, as well as to disseminate its 9th strategic plan for combating illicit drugs.

“In the future, we will consider a code of conduct based on the principles of law, national security, individual rights and the interests of the community. We are not taking their lives, or refusing them a second chance, but certain conditions must be imposed,” he said.

“We are not violating their human rights, but rather promoting them by helping to reorient drug users. We must protect the rights of community members who want to live in peace and not worry about the drug problem, while caring for future generations,” he added.

Manet also encouraged the private sector to join the government’s anti-drug campaign by refusing to employ known drug users.

He warned that the government plans to impose strict measures on any institution that employs individuals who are involved with drugs, and may also blacklist them, in addition to other conditions.

“In the near future, we will introduce consequences for any private business that is involved with drugs. Whether it is a cancellation of business licences or something more severe will be determined soon,” he said.

The prime minister expressed his hopes that the drug problem in Cambodia will be eliminated in the next 15 to 20 years, thanks to the government’s clear anti-drug campaign plans.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, expressed his support for the government’s strict action against state employees who are involved with drugs, whether they are civil servants or members of the police or armed forces. He noted that civil society organisations want to see public servants serve as models for the general public.

Regarding listing the proposed “blacklist”, he believes it is appropriate, albeit with conditions.

To promote human rights, he suggested that strict measures should be balanced with attempts to rehabilitate drug users.

“This is a strong measure, but consideration should be given to drug users who seek out treatment or rehabilitation. Their futures must be borne in mind, unless they persist in using drugs,” he said.

Yong Kim Eng, president of the People Centre for Development and Peace, said tough measures would give hope to members of the public who want to see the government take action on the drug problem, which appears to be spreading throughout society.

“It is very important to remove any public officials who are mixed up in illegal narcotics. When no public servants are involved in using or trafficking drugs, public administration will be more efficient and of a higher quality,” he added.