An international NGO providing vocational education to youth in three prisons in Cambodia will soon begin offering services to young drug offenders under a new agreement signed with the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons yesterday.
Fran Schreiber, development coordinator with This Life Cambodia, said the program first started at the Siem Reap Prison in 2010, and later expanded to Banteay Meanchey and CC2 in Phnom Penh.
Under the memorandum of understanding signed yesterday, This Life will continue to offer vocational training, among other services, but will also begin to offer drug prevention and counselling in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey.
Cambodia’s controversial anti-drug campaign, which has seen more than 17,000 arrests so far this year, had “impacted” what This Life was seeing in their program, Schreiber said.
Almost 70 percent of the NGOs last intake group in September, which consisted of 25 youth in Siem Reap and 21 youth in Banteay Meanchey, had been arrested for drug-related offenses.
“We are concerned about the growing increase in drug-related arrests and are developing some new programming in the coming year to provide drug use prevention education and counseling,” Schreiber said in an email.
The NGO earlier this month also signed an agreement to continue its program at CC2, but the organisation’s goal is to transition it to the Department of Prisons to manage.
Nouth Savna, spokesman for the Department of Prisons, said the takeover was very likely under a strategy to give inmates “vocational training and the chance to embark on a new livelihood”.