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NACD head seeks international cash for crackdown

Secretary General of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, Meas Vyrith, speaks to the press at National News Workshop on Drug in Phnom Penh's Mean Chey district last year.
Secretary General of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, Meas Vyrith, speaks to the press at National News Workshop on Drug in Phnom Penh's Mean Chey district last year. Heng Chivoan

NACD head seeks international cash for crackdown

Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), appealed to the international community for financial support of Cambodia’s “war on drugs” during a meeting with Vietnamese and South Korean officials on Wednesday.

“We talked about strengthening border security,” Vyrith said yesterday.

Vyrith confirmed that South Korea donated three motorcycles, two speedboats and other equipment.

Vyrith also used the opportunity to request funding for Cambodia’s anti-drug campaign in general. “We appeal to the international community ... We are implementing a drug crackdown campaign and need some assistance,” he said.

The request for aid came the day after NACD chairman Ke Kim Yan called for more drug traffickers to receive life sentences, an idea that was criticised by observers on both ethical and pragmatic grounds.

Yesterday, Gloria Lai, of the International Drug Policy Consortium, said Cambodia’s questionable track record on human rights in drug policy should deter donors from funding “measures that are inconsistent with international standards”, such as Cambodia’s controversial policy of involuntarily detaining addicts without due process.

The UN’s human rights representative in Cambodia, WanHea Lee, also said international assistance should only be increased when “a humane policy for drug users is adopted”.

“If the additional assistance were to be used to simply commit more people to life imprisonment, I believe most donors would think twice,” Lee added.

The South Korean Embassy did not respond to requests for comment.

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