Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Testing drugs a cop job: Chito

Testing drugs a cop job: Chito

Mok Chito, National Police anti-drug chief, speaks at the annual police meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photo supplied
Mok Chito, National Police anti-drug chief, speaks at the annual police meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photo supplied

Testing drugs a cop job: Chito

National Police anti-drug chief Mok Chito yesterday said his officers need to begin inserting themselves into a stage of investigations until now the sole domain of the judiciary – drug testing.

Speaking at an anti-drug trafficking meeting, Chito suggested that lab technicians charged with testing drug samples were at risk of being tempted to skew results in a way that would aid criminals, adding that courts are already too lenient with drug offenders.

Chito said he wants police to personally verify all test results “in order to avoid suspicion falling on the laboratories”.

“Otherwise,” he continued, “it could be that the laboratory reports that the drugs are of too poor quality and too low quantity to prosecute, or that the suspect deserves a lighter sentence. We need transparency from everyone.”

Chito went on to say that he wanted to track test results against sentences handed down by the courts. Senior police figures have long bemoaned what they view as the courts’ tendency towards soft sentencing when it comes to drug-related crimes.

Responding to Chito’s comments, Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin suggested yesterday that the top drug cop had failed to grasp the principle of the presumption of innocence.

“Generally, police are just like the public. When they arrest a perpetrator, they want to punish them severely,” said Malin. “When they arrest them, they consider them to be the perpetrator. But for the courts, people who have been arrested are suspects.”

And while Chito implied that laboratory technicians could not be trusted, Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), the authority now responsible for testing, said yesterday evening that similar dangers lay in giving police officers access to test results.

“Drug test results are like a knife with five blades,” said Vyrith. “When we can maintain their confidentiality, there will be justice. However, if, for example, after [an officer] receives test results, they go to meet the perpetrator [and explain] that their sentence will be five to 10 years, they can use this to do business.

“This is a very big concern, that [police] will use the result to extort money from [suspects], therefore it must be kept secret.”

Vyrith did say that, despite the lack of legal provision for test results to be passed to police, he would do so if it meant helping officers gauge how much of the material they seize in raids contained drugs, or how much dealers have padded out their wares.

MOST VIEWED

  • Draft law on state of emergency pending finalisation

    Prime Minister Hun Sen will lead a top-level meeting on Tuesdays to review the draft law on imposing a state of emergency. Meantime, he has decided to close all casinos in Cambodia effective April 1. In the press conference after the National Assembly met today, Hun

  • Stranded passengers petition UK for help

    Some 10,521 foreigners in Cambodia, the bulk being from the UK, have signed an online petition calling on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and relevant officials to fly them out of the Kingdom. The petition is targeted at 15,000 foreigners. Among them are nearly 200 Europeans, the majority

  • Covid-19 Pandemic: Force majeure and legal consequences

    Is the Covid-19 pandemic considered an event of force majeure? The World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak a pandemic on March 11. Following this declaration, the Ministry of Health and other ministries have taken various legal and administrative measures to prevent the rapid

  • PM set to mend ties with US

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has responded to US Congressman Ted Yoho, saying he is ready to improve Cambodia-US relations, and not take up issues of disagreements which have become a barrier between the two countries’ bilateral cooperation. His response to Yoho came after the congressman

  • Mysterious century-old structure found at bottom of Angkor pond

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a mysterious 1,000-year-old structure of a wooden building at the bottom of a pond after the Angkor Wat temple’s conservation team completed restoring its northern cave. The deputy director at ANA’s Angkor International Research and Documentation

  • China sends more test kits

    The Ministry of Health has ramped up its preparation to stem the spread of the deadly Covid-19 disease in the Kingdom thanks to help from the Jack Ma and Alibaba foundations which donated 20,000 test kits to the Kingdom. On March 28, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang