A ground-breaking ceremony will be held today to mark the start of construction of a $6 million treatment centre for drug addicts in Sihanoukville.
The centre will allow for the treatment of 2,000 people per year.
Deputy Prime Minister Ke Kim Yan, chairman of National Authority for Combatting Drugs, said yesterday that the centre would teach specialist skills to drug victims after treatment.
Victims would be able to return home with skills to earn a living and refrain from drug use again.
Mr Kim Yan spoke after a working session with a Vietnamese delegation at the Council of Ministers.
He said the Vietnamese side was providing $3 million in aid and experts to crackdown on illegal drugs in Cambodia and rehabilitate victims in the community-based treatment centre.
However, he said that despite the deployment of 177 medical centres and community-based treatment programs, not enough victims had come forward, causing a rise in the number of addicts.
“According to a new report, there were 12,000 drug addicts,” he said.
General Meas Vyrith, secretary-general at NACD, said the new community-based centre would allow anyone to get treatment. “We let victims of addiction come as volunteers. We cannot force them,” he said.
Soeung Senkarona, a senior investigator for rights group Adhoc, welcomed construction of the centre because it was helpful for addicts to get the chance to reintegrate themselves into society.
“What I am concerned about is that if the authorities can manage it well and control a lot of people because it’s a big place,” he said.
“It should not be like some other places where people are detained inside a room and no one cares for them.”
Early this year, the government ordered authorities to launch a six-month campaign against drugs. NACD reported that 120 kilos of drugs had been seized in the first six months of the year.
However, it pointed to losses in recouping the value of property seized in drug cases. Delays in taking cases to court have meant big declines in the value of confiscated goods.
More than 50 cars, 900 motorbikes and nearly $30,000 have been confiscated in the crackdown. The number of arrests, 9,694, was up 4,000 on last year.