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Nine governors rapped over drugs

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
Provincial governors attend a recent meeting at the Ministry of Interior. KT/Khem Sovannara

National Police chief General Neth Savoeun yesterday said nine provincial governors have not firmly executed orders to implement measures against illicit drug use and distribution in nightclubs and KTV outlets.

In a meeting yesterday, Gen Savoeun said he received reports that noted nine out of 25 provinces across the Kingdom have not taken any steps in the prevention or fight against drug use and distribution in entertainment clubs.

“I have written letters to the governors and specifically mentioned their names already,” he said. “I just want to alert them again that drug use remains a major concern for the country’s development and they must not underestimate it.”

Gen Savoeun added that the nine provincial governors must take the lead in disseminating information about drug prevention and crack down on drug-related crimes.

“I will not say who those governors are, but please stop saying that you are busy. We are all busy,” he said. “You must take action [in preventing] the problem immediately or else you will face the problem.”

Takeo provincial Governor Ouch Phea yesterday said in early July, he received a notice on taking concrete actions to disseminate and educate people about drug problems and its side effects.

“I have since then conducted workshops and campaigns to raise awareness of people who work in entertainment clubs,” he said. “I also instructed police [officers] who are stationed at the Cambodia-Vietnam border to examine closely at border checkpoints. So far, we have not seen any crimes take place.”

Gen Savoeun yesterday also detailed strategies to increase the efficacy of crack downs on drug runs across the Cambodia-Vietnam border, which he said could be attained through a greater cooperation between the two countries’ anti-drug departments.

He called for the establishment of a joint command unit with the aim of bolstering relations and easing the sharing of information between the two sides, including the rapid arrest of suspects as requested by the two nations.

“All provincial governors must lead their officials to understand about advanced tricks that criminals will use to transport drugs across the border, especially immigration and customs officers stationed at border checkpoints,” he said.

The Interior Ministry’s anti-drug police department has cracked down on 3,676 cases and arrested 7,664 suspects, including 177 foreigners, during the first six months of this year, according to a report.

In the report, nearly 10 percent of illicit drugs seized was intercepted in airports, 20 percent was smuggled through post offices, and 70 percent were apprehended at the international border checkpoints.

The report further said that Cambodia and Vietnam are not drugs manufacturing countries, but noted that both nations are seriously affected by cross border drug trafficking and distribution.

General Mok Chito, deputy National Police chief, yesterday said 11 Cambodian provincial police chiefs are now cooperating with Vietnam provincial police chiefs at the border, including conducting regular meetings to combat drug trafficking.

“We must organise a joint map along the border to facilitate the cooperation,” Gen Chito said. “Both authorities must determine the targeted areas and report on any suspected activity.”

On July 17, the UN office on Drugs and Crime issued a report of a study on Transnational Organised Crimes in Southeast Asia: Evolution, Growth and Impact 2019.

The report noted that recent crackdowns in some parts of Southeast Asia and neighbouring regions have changed trafficking patterns, while large criminal groups have at the same time scaled-up and moved operations to locations with weak governance, particularly in border areas.

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