Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NACD denies abuse of addicts




NACD denies abuse of addicts

NACD denies abuse of addicts

AUTHORITIES are defending their treatment of drug users in government-run rehabilitation centres, insisting a prominent rights watchdog’s claims that addicts face forced detention and abuse at the controversial facilities are untrue.

In a press conference Thursday, authorities said the allegations contained in a Human Rights Watch report released last week were made “without any valid grounds”.

“The centres are not detention or torture centres,” said Meas Virith, deputy secretary general of the country’s anti-drugs bureau, the National Authority for Combating Drugs. “They are open to the public and are not secret centres.”

Officials from the NACD and other government bodies that run the 11 public rehabilitation centres said that reports of violence, torture and coerced treatment were false.

“There are no beatings at my centre, or anyone bleeding like the Human Rights Watch report accuses us,” said Ean Sokhim, director of Orgkas Khnom, or My Chance, a Phnom Penh municipality-run facility that figures prominently in the report.

“I think just sending drug users to rehabilitation centres is not a rights violation, because if you leave them on the street, they may harm people,” Ean Sokhim said.

The HRW report drew predominantly from interviews with 53 drug users who had been detained in at least one of the centres within the past three years.

Abuse ‘widespread’: HRW
Former detainees interviewed by the Post have reported violations similar to those alleged in the HRW report.

One former detainee said he had been held at various rehabilitation centres, including Orgkas Khnom, last year.

“In every last one, you get beat up,” said the former detainee, who asked that his name not be used.

The former detainee also said he witnessed violent punishments for apparent transgressions, including attempting to escape and failing to participate in physical labour or military-style drills on demand.

In an e-mail Thursday, Joe Amon, HRW’s director of health and human rights, said the report’s yearlong research was sound.

“The types of abuses described in [the report] were widespread and integral to how these centres operate,” Amon said.

He said authorities should take the allegations seriously and investigate claims of torture and ill-treatment.

“No other independent assessment has been conducted of conditions in these centres, and we absolutely stand by the accuracy of our findings,” Amon said.

“Simply dismissing the report as groundless may be convenient for the Cambodian government, but it does not relieve them of their obligation to respect international and national law.”

MOST VIEWED

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of