Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has proposed that countries in the region continue mutual cooperation and support in combating drugs and crime.

Sar Kheng, who is also deputy prime minister, made the suggestion at the 14th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime and Related Meetings via video conference on November 26.

He said Cambodia has made a number of significant improvements in recognising the dangers of narcotics.

The country, he added, has launched anti-drug campaigns at the national and sub-national levels since 2017, seizing tonnes of illegal drugs and sending hundreds of perpetrators to court.

“I ask countries in the region – states in the Mekong sub-region in particular – to continue their mutual support in the fight against illegal drugs,” he said.

Sar Kheng said criminals are using technology to commit cross-border crimes in the region and around the globe.

He said Cambodia has made a number of significant achievements, including a Law on combating financial crimes, a law on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and a law on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing.

He said they will help provide Cambodia with a strong, internationally recognised legal foundation for strengthening its financial and banking systems and contributing to economic growth.

Transparency International Cambodia executive director Pech Pisey said on November 26 he wants Cambodia and other countries to take a tougher stance against money laundering and drug and human trafficking.

To this end, he said countries need to work together to communicate and exchange information.

Pisey said an assessment by his organisation found regional and international cooperation remained limited.

“It was recommended we create new laws in line with international principles so [Cambodia] has an opportunity to join with other countries in the region,” he said.

Mok Chito, deputy National Police chief in charge of drugs, said some drug traffickers had used Cambodia as a place to smuggle drugs from the Golden Triangle region for distribution to China, Taiwan, Australia and other target destinations.

“Transnational crime cases decreased in 2020. Although we see success, we have to remain vigilant. We have always requested cooperation with neighbouring countries,” he said.