Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Necessary’ drug crackdown to continue

‘Necessary’ drug crackdown to continue

Cambodian police officials burn drugs in Phnom Penh in June. AFP
Cambodian police officials burn drugs in Phnom Penh in June. AFP

‘Necessary’ drug crackdown to continue

The National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) has deemed it “necessary” to extend Cambodia’s controversial drug crackdown, which was scheduled to end last year, and continues to make arrests while awaiting official approval from the government.

Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the NACD, said a technical working group had concluded their analysis of their campaign, which he said attempted to “get rid of the root causes” of drug abuse.

“There is still a need to continue the campaign . . . because of the positive outcome,” he said. “It will take time for the senior officials to make a decision. The campaign still goes on.”

Meanwhile, at a meeting between the government and stakeholders yesterday, NACD officer Thong Sokunthea presented the results of the crackdown last year.

In 2017, more than 17,800 people were arrested in the drug crackdown, with more than 50 percent being solely drug users, according to a participant at the meeting who asked not to be named. Of these, 11,000 were sent to rehabilitation centres.

Read more: Is Cambodia’s war on drugs working?

Sokunthea himself could not be reached yesterday, but the participant said his focus was on educating people to prevent drug use.

The drug crackdown was initially scheduled to last from January to June last year, but was extended until the end of the year. Further aggravating already persistent overcrowding of prisons and a lack of adequate medical care, the campaign has drawn criticism from civil society and observers, casting doubt over the effectiveness of the campaign.

Vyrith yesterday said the third campaign phase was envisaged to last until the end of the government’s mandate, with elections coming up in July.

Sou Sochenda, an officer at NGO Khana, said in an interview earlier this year that the government seemed to have shifted its focus from simply imprisoning people to more community-based treatment, but its implementation still required improvement.

“For the second phase it seems like we worked more closely with the government and that the government is paying more attention to what drug users need,” she said. “And there seems to be more focus on the involvement of all key stakeholders.”

Yet, there still needed to be more and better community-based treatment, she said, as some local doctors lacked the expertise or time because they were in charge of “many different clients, not only drug users”.

“That’s the gap,” she said.

While welcoming efforts from the government to combat drug use and addiction, Khana Executive Director Choub Sok Chamreun in an email noted that the government had to continue to invest in the quality of service delivery.

“This [includes] sufficient and timely supplies of medicines, and the availability of medical materials and equipments for helping the service providers [in] performing their jobs,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Time to avert disastrous Covid situation: officials

    The Covid-19 situation in Cambodia is heading towards further large-scale community transmission as the total number of confirmed cases is nearing 61,000 and the death toll passed 900 on July 10, senior health officials warned. Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine expressed concern that the country was going

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Baby saved as mother is lost to Covid

    Newborn baby Neth David has had a rough start in the world. His mother, Vong Daneth, was seven months pregnant when she contracted a severe case of Covid-19. When it became clear to her doctors that she would not survive, they performed a cesarean section

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • Hun Sen: Get 12-17 age group ready for Covid jabs

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has told parents of children aged 12-17 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal and Preah Sihanouk to get them ready for vaccinations soon. “There is a need to vaccinate children and youths aged 12 to 17. According to the statistics provided