Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Official details Kingdom's drug problems



Official details Kingdom's drug problems

Senior police officers inspect photos of Trapaing Chhouk village yesterday during a conference on illegal drugs at the Ministry of Interior in Phnom Penh.
Senior police officers inspect photos of Trapaing Chhouk village yesterday during a conference on illegal drugs at the Ministry of Interior in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Official details Kingdom's drug problems

The nation’s drug czar yesterday described a prison and rehab centre system in which drugs were being sold under the noses of the authorities and suggested police estimates of the number of drug users in Cambodia were “not enough” as he spoke at the Interior Ministry’s annual conference on the topic.

Ke Kim Yan, deputy prime minister and president of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, specifically called out the “My Chance” drug detention centre, saying he had been made aware of individuals smuggling narcotics into the centre in their bags. Men Phal, an administrator at the centre, denied this was the case.

“My Chance” was mentioned in a 2013 Human Rights Watch report lambasting the Kingdom’s rehabilitation centres, in which a former detainee described arbitrary beatings at the facility.

But Phal was not the only government official to reject Kim Yan’s claims.

Som Keo, spokesman for the ministry’s department of prison operations, said later in the day that despite a number of arrests for drug possession in prisons, the Kingdom’s correctional facilities do not have a drug-trafficking problem.

“Previously, there were some problems like this, but it was not trafficking. They illegally used drugs and we cracked down … Sometimes we arrested them when the drugs were brought inside by relatives and sometimes we raided and checked when they were using … but I cannot count how many cases.”

Kim Yan went on to encourage the nation’s oft-criticised rehabilitation centres to improve their treatment of drug users, bemoaning the recidivism rates.

“We have seen those receiving treatment go back and forth … It’s the same people and the numbers do not decrease,” he said, adding that more than 50 per cent of drug users never even see the inside of a centre.

The deputy prime minister also raised an eyebrow at the police’s latest drug-use statistics. A police report issued at the conference claimed Cambodia was home to 16,575 users in 2015, up from its 2014 count of 11,069.

“This number is not enough,” Kim Yan stated flatly. The report also claimed a year-on-year doubling of the number of drug-related arrests, from 2,235 in 2014 to 5,032 in 2015.

But among the gaudy arrest totals, Kim Yan said there were areas of Phnom Penh that still desperately needed attention, among them, the notoriously drug-ridden neighbourhood of Trapaing Chhouk.

“Someone whispered to me that I should not go there because the location is anarchy and it is difficult [to] control … [I] request that Phnom Penh City Hall or the National Police intervene,” he said, though admitting a clean-up of the area would be a months-long endeavour.

Kim Yan also called for a crackdown on cross-border drug smuggling, saying specific attention needed to be paid to the provinces of Stung Treng and Preah Vihear, which border Laos and Thailand.

The police’s report issued yesterday highlighted failures to properly implement anti-cross border smuggling measures.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma