Ke Kim Yan, National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) president, said on Tuesday that the distribution of drugs in rural areas, villages and communes was not on the decline, despite recent crackdowns on large-scale drug operations.
Kim Yan, who is also deputy prime minister, was addressing an annual conference reviewing the results of anti-drug policies last year and setting goals for this year.
The meeting at the Ministry of Interior was attended by some 30 ministers, plus ministry representatives and stakeholders.
“Before, I concluded that drug cases could be reduced by tackling large-scale distribution. But it has not decreased in villages and communes. Most entertainment centres use drugs,” Kim Yan said.
He appealed to all relevant authorities to find more dealers and those behind drugs importation in order to ensure the country is doing everything it can for the safety of its people and for the good of Cambodian society.
An NACD report said recently that last year there were 8,002 drug busts, with 16,216 people arrested and more than half a tonne of illegal drugs seized.
“The drugs issue is not only ours; the world is concerned. Relevant officials must take strict measures for the sake of the nation and unite to cooperate so we can crack down on the problem and stamp it out."
“Through our mechanisms, we will crack down on the trafficking and use of drugs in our country. A key aim is to stamp out drug trafficking across our international borders,” he said.
He said the government has released a 60-point plan to stamp out drug crime. The three main points, Kim Yan said, are educating young people; treating addicts, including measures to ensure they do not reuse drugs; and raising awareness of drug use in local areas.
“Villages and communes are the front line in the battle against drug crime. It is important to gather drug addicts to get them treatment,” he said.
Addressing the increase in drug cases, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng last week also directed provincial officials to make a commitment to eliminating the distribution and use of drugs. He confirmed that drugs have now spread to some rural areas.
“Please be more attentive to the issues of drugs. Many years ago it was not such a big issue, but now it has spread to some rural areas. You must act now. It’s very dangerous for the future of our children if they get addicted to drugs,” he said.
The Drug Addict Relief Association of Cambodia executive director Meas Sovann said law enforcement remained an issue.
“[If they] want eliminate the use of drugs, they must enforce the laws seriously from the national to sub-national level. Some local officials listen to [the order] when they meet leaders, but after that the order melts away,” Sovann said.