Drug users are being jailed without access to rehabilitation, an NGO specialising in HIV services said yesterday.
Leaders of the Khana organisation accused the government of jailing drug users without proper access to health services or rehab during its recent anti-drug campaign.
The accusation emerged during a roundtable discussion of the global campaign “Support, Don’t Punish” at the Green Palace Hotel in Phnom Penh.
Khana executive director Choub Sok Chamreun said: “The law stipulates clearly that the risk reduction service is aimed at promoting drug users to get the services, but in practice, they are just being punished.
“They are losing the opportunity to receive health services, which is our concern.”
National Authority for Combatting Drus deputy general Neak Yuthea argued that although drug use is illegal, authorities are still lenient on users placed under arrest, and dismissed the accusations made by Khana.
“The law on drug control states that it is a crime, but there are a lot of pardons for drug users,” he said.
“We do not send them to court if they agree to receive medical services.”
But drug user Seuong Sary said he and other users moved from place to place to avoid police because if arrested, they end up in languishing in jail without treatment.
“Most of them dare not to appear in public because if we sit in any specific place, the police would arrest us,” he said.