Deputy Prime Minister and co-Minister of Interior Sar Kheng admitted Wednesday that the government is having a hard time cracking down on law enforcement officers who are dealing illicit drugs.
“It is actually difficult in tackling drugs in areas where military police and police, who use their power, are involved,” Sar Kheng, who is also chairman of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said at the Ministry.
Speaking to the heads of the
11 provincial committees charged with combating drugs in their home provinces, Sar Kheng said the government must work harder to prosecute police officers who are trading illicit drugs.
“If we succeed with a few cases in tackling the problem…we will succeed in the future,” he said at the meeting, at which the UN Office on Drugs and Crime presented the ministry with computers, motorbikes, and other equipment to help fight drug traffickers.
NACD Secretary-General Ngan Chamroeun said Thursday that Sar Kheng also called for the establishment of a committee comprised of judges, military officers, police and other stakeholders who will meet monthly and review all drug-related cases.
Ngan Chamroeun said the power and influence of officers involved, combined with corruption in the judicial system, makes it difficult to bring them to justice.
“It’s hard for law enforcement,” he said.
In October 2003, RCAF Major General Dom Hak and Lieutenant Colonel Muon Sokhan were arrested in connection with a police sweep that found 35 kg of heroin concealed in a Phnom Penh house. Military Police released the pair later the same month, citing lack of evidence.
Graham Shaw of the UNODC said it’s difficult to say how many police officers are dealing drugs. But even a few corrupt officers can ruin the reputation of the entire police service, especially when they are high-ranking, Shaw said. And when police are not prosecuted for their own crimes it doesn’t look good on anyone, he added.
“It sends a signal to the world and Cambodians that the law isn’t being followed,” he said Thursday.