B’bang Drug Dealers Using Youths as Couriers

Drug traffickers in Battambang province are increasingly using child­ren to smuggle drugs to their clients, leaving authorities baf­fled about how to deal with those ar­rested, police and human rights groups said.

So Sam An, provincial deputy police chief, said police arrest be­tween 15 to 30 underage drug users and child drug smugglers everyday—usually caught with am­phet­amines.

Most of those arrested are be­tween the ages of 8 and 13, he said, adding that police often rel­ease them after de­taining them for a day of “edu­cation.”

“We don’t know where to take them to,” he said. “They won’t stop after one day of education.”

So Sam An said it is difficult to question underage sus­­pects since they often can’t re­veal the identities of the traffickers who pay them.

“It is harder because they were cheated and did not care to re­mem­ber who pays them,” he said.

Yim Menh Ly, an official from the Battambang branch of local rights group Adhoc, said drug cases against drug traffickers that rely on the testimony of children often fail to hold up in court.

“The court and police decide whatever they want. They take money and release the suspects for not having enough evidence from the kids,” he said. “It is very serious and requires strong and serious measures and willingness from the police and courts to stop it.”

So Sam An said Battambang po­lice are proposing to build an education and skills center to rehabilitate children who are ar­rest­ed. The center, which would be funded by police, would take in youths for at least three months, he said.

Earlier this month, police said that a separate drug treatment and re­habilitation center is scheduled to open in early April in Bat­tam­bang province.



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