Thursday, 22 October 2009

Cambodia Collects Drug Data for More Effective Policy

Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 22 October 2009
(POsted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian commune councilors will play a key role in contributing data on drug usage in the kingdom, officials said on Wednesday. It is hoped collection of clear information will further the battle against narcotics.

“We will have clear and detailed data of drug issues in the country because we will collect data and then fight against drug trafficking,” Moek Dara, secretary general of the National Authority of Combating Drugs (NACD), told a seminar held in Phnom Penh to explain the data collection scheme. The evaluation stage will be followed by an action plan for combating narcotics between 2010 and 2012, he said.

Douglas Broderick, resident coordinator UN Country team, said that international partners will stand with Government to fight drug related crimes and drug trafficking. “We will continue to support Cambodia on this issue,” he said, adding that Cambodia is still one of several regional drug producers. “Local people have suffered from this drug and Cambodian government spent a lot of money for this issue.”

Promising a high level of commitment to address human and public security issues, the 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. “This is a good step setting out in the right direction using the step by step process of an expanded data gathering system on drug control issues and will over time enhance local capacity for better national and provincial level planning,” Broderic said.

“I am sure that the NACD is well aware that there must be continuous engagement of provincial authorities and relevant line ministries as are participating in the present workshop, and that going capacity building will effectively enhance use of the commune competitive plan in ensuring drug control,” he added, noting that the workshop objective is also in line with the ASEAN goal of a drug free ASEAN by 2015. “It is important to note that these efforts require a long time and the UN system and donors need to support the process through its pilots learning and refinement steps to get the full benefits of commune based data gathering systems,” he added.

Broderick said that for the first time treatment data from Cambodia found mention in the UNODC 2009. UNODC provided technical assistance to NACD for its report on illicit drugs and routine surveillance system in Cambodia 2007.

Masafumi Kuroki, Japanese ambassador to Cambodia, said that the fight against drugs would need cooperation. “We have to join in hands to fight against drug issues and Japan will continue to support [this].”

“We consider drug users as victims and we have to help build good society and free of drug and save families of victims,” Ang Vong Vathana, also vice president of NACD, said. “We need to enhance our work effectively for this issue. Data will help us.”

According to an NACD report, in first semester of 2009, law enforcement officers dealt with 140 cases, arresting 287 suspects and confiscating 73,561 methamphetamine pills and about 304 tons of safrole rich oil. In 2008 and 2009, drug related crime still increased. The law enforcement “need to enhance and capacity building and experience,” the report noted. Over the last two years, 2008 and 2009, the official figures of drug users are lower than previous years.

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