PHNOM PENH: Prime Minister Hun Sen directly addressed his son, future Prime Minister Hun Manet, during a meeting yesterday, asking him to do whatever necessary to better fight the country’s drug crisis.
In a meeting with current and future government officials on August 10, Prime Minister Hun Sen requested that the next administration join in Cambodia’s war on drugs and address the root of the issue by cracking down on drug trafficking.
A report on drug crackdowns released by the National Anti-Drug Authority showed a 1.3% increase in drug crimes compared to the previous year, totalling 6,390. They reported that more than 15,000 people were arrested and 15 tons of drugs confiscated. This week, three people were arrested for the possession of and intent to sell over 102 kilos of drugs in Phnom Penh.
Cambodia’s anti-drug policies have received criticism from human rights groups who say that the high number of arrests contributes to prison overcrowding and fuels corruption. Drug offenders made up about 60% of Cambodia’s prison population as of 2020. Ministry of Interior spokesperson Khieu Sopheak responded to the complaints in 2020 saying that, human rights “need to be put aside” to fight drugs that destroy families and fuel violent crime.
The government has attempted to relieve overcrowded prisons by building another prison in 2021 that holds 2,000 in Kampong Cham, in addition to opening more rehabilitation facilities. This month will see the opening of two new rehab centers in Poipet and Battambang. Both centers have a focus on getting its patients clean and providing them with vocational skills to help them re-join society.
Future Prime Minister Hun Manet is expected to take office on August 22 and will then have the authority to reorganize ministries and departments as he sees fit.