Tonnes of drugs set to be destroyed, clampdown goes on despite Covid

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Authorities burn pile of drugs during a ceremony to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking at Koh Pich in Phnom Penh on June 2019. Hong Menea

The National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) will destroy several tonnes of narcotics on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26.

Deputy National Police chief Mak Chito told The Post on June 23 that the drugs to be destroyed were those that have final court verdicts and those without ones.

He explained that for the drugs attached to cases that have no final verdict, the NACD will weigh them and take a sample of them to test in order to see the percentage of its purity which helps the court to decide on the penalty, and the rest will be then destroyed.

“In drug law, the court makes decisions on the penalties based on the kind of drug, its purity, and quantity. We must measure all of this correctly and then decide how much is to be destroyed on June 26,” he said.

He said in the past the destruction was held in every province, but this year it will be held after meetings of the regional Appeal Courts in Phnom Penh, Preah Sihanouk, Tbong Khmum and Battambang.

“Our plan this year is for several tonnes to be destroyed, a lot. But I am not sure about the exact number as the regional appeals courts are collecting [the drugs],” he said.

NACD told The Post last week that more than 4.5 tonnes of drug had been seized in the last 18 months.

In the meantime, NACD is preparing documents relevant to Preventive Drug Education work to be included into the ASEAN Training Centre for Preventive Drug Education (ATCPDE).

NACD secretary-general Meas Virith told The Post on June 22 that this inclusion was in line with ASEAN’s Meeting on Drug Control by sectors – treatment, education, prevention, law enforcement and crops in the place of opium.

Cambodia and countries in the ASEAN region had technical working groups for coordinating this work. When the preparations are finished, the Philippines – which is currently the chair of ASEAN – will collect these documents for evaluation to see which points are to be included in the ASEAN framework and shared with each other.

He added that each year all ASEAN member countries along with Cambodia updated this work to be included at the high-level meetings on drug control. The chair country will report achievements related to education, enforcement and public awareness.

Virith continued that for 2020 and 2021, Cambodia or other ASEAN member states had additional challenges related to public awareness and education about drug-related dangers because the disseminators and educators had not met in person and they had discussed the problems virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meas Sovann, president of the Drug Addict Relief Association of Cambodia (DARAC), said that during the Covid-19 pandemic, Cambodia’s anti-drug efforts had somewhat fallen by the wayside because they have been occupied with ongoing Covid-19 fight.