Minister of Interior Sar Sokha reiterated his stern warning that any officer within the ministry’s purview who tests positive for drugs or is implicated in drug cases would be dismissed from the National Police.

The warning followed the proposed removal of a senior Kampot provincial police official for his involvement in drug use. 

Sokha delivered the message during the inauguration ceremony of the Poipet Victims Rehabilitation Centre and Shelter in Banteay Meanchey province, which shares its border with Thailand, on December 18.

“I announce that officers, especially armed forces within the framework of the interior ministry, are prohibited from working in the police if drug test results indicate the presence of illicit substances,” he said.

He said that the measures to eliminate drugs aim to educate the younger generation, aligning with the government’s priorities for future drug reduction and elimination efforts.

“We aim to demonstrate to the next generation that cleaning our house, as Prime Minister Hun Manet has articulated, is crucial. Time is running out, and we must act,” he said.

“For civil servants, there are no specific joint instructions, only a reminder. If you’re implicated in drugs, please disassociate yourself. Officers with drug involvement must self-reflect and cease such activities promptly. History has shown that drug dealers do not lead prosperous or content lives,” he added.

The Kampot provincial police said in a social media post that it strictly upholds the rules and directives of the National Police and the interior ministry, which encourages the forces to completely avoid getting involved in the use and distribution of drugs, setting a positive example for the public.

“[We] have requested the dismissal of Lieutenant Colonel Meas Piseth, deputy police chief of Kampot town, from the National Police. His involvement in drugs has significantly tarnished the honour of the National Police,” said the post.

It said such a dismissal would serve as a warning to all officers in the province, deterring them from involvement in drugs.

Am Sam Ath, operations director at rights group LICADHO, said that addressing the drug issue must begin with individuals. He urged both law enforcement officerss and citizens to steer clear of drugs.

“If all forces distance themselves from drugs, it marks the beginning of prevention. The worth of every force lies in staying clear of drugs. Therefore, adherence to the rules is a collective effort in drug prevention, recognising the societal and human resource devastation caused by drugs,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Neth Savoeun, who chairs the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), urged NACD general secretariat officials to intensify their study, research and guidance to sub-national authorities.

He stated the need to lead outreach efforts and enforce laws combating drug abuse, likening the fight against drug crimes to a battlefield. Education in all areas was underscored as an essential aspect of the effective fight against drugs.

“Reforming less effective educational mechanisms is crucial to inform people about the effects and dangers of drugs and the tactics of criminals. Implementing new mechanisms is critical to enhance the receptivity of the general public, particularly among vulnerable young people,” he said.

In September, the General Department of Prisons (GDP), which operates under the interior ministry, released guidelines detailing measures for drug testing among prison officers and inmates suspected of drug use. The objective is to effectively prevent drug trafficking within prison facilities.