Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Government Cracks Down on Drugs Smuggling and Abuse

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Cambodia is a victim country of drugs smuggling and drugs abuses. This announcement was made by Ang Vong Vathana, Minister of Justice and Vice-Chairman of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), during his opening remarks at a workshop on Expanding Data Collection Based on Commune Competitive Plan on October 21.

About 100 Cambodia’s police, military police, Communes/ Sangkats Council members and community’s members from cities and provinces have attended the Workshop which was organized by the National Authority for Combating Drugs to address the human and public security issues, and drugs combating in Cambodia.

The Minister said that in 1990’s, the use of drugs has occurred only in Phnom Penh and a small number of cities and province. But now the use of drug has spread out to remote areas, provinces and cities across Cambodia.

“Before drug abuse mainly occurred in Phnom Penh and maybe one or two cities or province. The drug users only used methamphetamines and they used it through smoking. But now the number of drug users are increasing, spreading to the rural areas in Cambodia,” he said.

Now many of Cambodia’s drug users have used methamphetamines through injection, which has serious impacts on their health, said Vong Vathana, adding that the use of illicit drugs is has very serious consequences for drug users because they would be affected by HIV /AIDS and diseases.

To combat drug abuses and smuggling activities in Cambodia, Vong Vathana said so far his government and the NACD in collaboration with other related ministries, local authorities and international organizations have been working very hard.

The Minister continued to say that the government issued the national policies for combating drugs and the drug issue for schools’ study curriculums for teaching at primary and high schools throughout the country.

“We encourage all concerned authorities in villages, communes and districts as well as communities and other private companies and Non-Governmental Organizations to join the hard works in raising awareness and training for young people to reduce drug use,” he said.

The Minister stated that the government will also enforce the laws and strongly punish the criminals or those who are producing or smuggling drugs in Cambodia.

Douglas Broderick, Resident Coordinator of United Nations Country Team, said Cambodian government initiated the Seila program in 1996 to institute decentralized systems and strategies for poverty alleviation and good governance at the provincial and commune levels.
But beginning with five provinces, its coverage has now expanded to all provinces in 2003.

To improving the commune/Sangkat Database for monitoring of Cambodia’s Millionaire Development Goals at National and Sub-national levels, UNDP has provided technical support for Ministry of Planning in developing the Commune Data Based (CDB) through Seila Program since 1998, he said, adding that the database used by Cambodian government and development partners is to support Commune/ Sangkat (CS)planning, CS fund allocations as well as sub-national administration management and development in Cambodia.

“I am sure that the NACD is well aware that there must be continuous engagements of provincial authorities and relevant line ministries as are participating in the present workshop and that ongoing capacity building will affectively enhance use of the commune competitive plan in ensuring drug control,” he said.

Masafumi Kuroki, Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia, stated that drug use and HIV among drugs users are emerging issues affecting the human security of the population, particularly young people in Cambodia. He said that with negative impact of the globalization, illegal trans-border activities such human trafficking, drug traffic are increasing in this sub-region the capacity of the government as well as to empower the populations.

Japan has listed drug issue in Cambodia as one of the global issue to be tackled with its assistance program towards Cambodia through both bilateral and multilateral means, said Masafumi, adding the government of Japan has been extending technical cooperation to the NACD to help strengthen drug control law enforcement and drug analysis capacity of the government as well as to increase awareness of the population to prevent drag abuse.

The Japanese Ambassador stated that through technical cooperation since 2000, Japan has transferred drugs investigations and drug identifications techniques to its Cambodian counterparts. He said that Japan has been cooperating through UN agencies in many countries to tackle drug issues. In Cambodia, Japan has financed the UNODC project “Development of Community-Based Counseling, Treatment and Rehabilitation Services” with UN Human Security Fund to address the issues affecting human security in developing countries.

“This data collection system used by the project has also become the basis for a commune competitive plan which now is being used for expanded data collection for drug supply and drug use for all 1621 communes in Cambodia. I highly appreciate and welcome the leadership and efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia in dealing with the challenges of drug problems. The government of Japan continues to support its efforts,” he said.

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