The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons (GDP) has begun to implement nationwide drug testing. These measures target both officials and inmates suspected of drug use, aiming to enhance law enforcement within prisons and maintain a drug-free environment.

GDP director-general Chhorn Sanath issued a directive regarding the implementation the testing policy, following a September 4 call from Minister of Interior Sar Sokha for all units to strengthen drug control measures.

“The GDP has taken this step to guarantee the efficient performance of prison officials in the capital and provinces and instil confidence in the general public. As a result of this directive, drug testing measures will be implemented for all officials, as well as inmates, suspected of drug use,” the directive stated.

In coordination with medical personnel and individual prison facilities, the GDP will conduct surprise drug tests. If officials are discovered attempting to evade testing or are found in possession of illicit substances, the GDP will request that the ministry apply administrative and legal measures.

Ny Sokha, the head of rights group ADHOC, said on September 28 that conducting drug inspections within institutions was a minor step. He opined that what holds more significance is the need for authorities to implement stringent measures to combat and prevent drug trafficking across the country.

“The key priority is to prosecute individuals involved in drug distribution. Conducting urine tests for drugs is not an effective means to combat the drug problem, as those identified as drug users are essentially victims,” he said.

“The crucial aspect is for authorities to apprehend and take action against drug traffickers. This would be commendable,” he added.

He explained that effective prevention relies on rigorous law enforcement without exceptions, regardless of an individual’s influence or power.

Speaking at an event in Kandal province in December last year, former interior minister Sar Kheng noted that 37,000 inmates were incarcerated across the country at the time, with more than 50 per cent of them having links to drug-related offences.