NGO Tunes Security After Rehab Center Melee

Mith Samlanh/Friends is re-evaluating its security and oversight of drug rehabilitation programs following a Nov 2 incident in which a group of 14 drug-addicted teenagers in a Kompong Speu facility erupted in­to a fight with swords and sticks.

The fight was allegedly sparked when a group of six newcomers to the center did not pay enough “re­spect” to a group of eight who had been there longer, Kompong Speu prov­­incial deputy military police chief Men Siborn said Sunday.

“Just like a Hong Kong movie, the old group wanted respect from the new,” he said. “It was the wildest at­tack I have seen in 10 years.”

The fight began in the rehabilitation facility and then progressed into the street before authorities could stop it and apprehend the youths, who were detained overnight by mil­itary police and given short haircuts as punishment.

Only minor injuries were sustain­ed by the combatants in the fight.

“I will add some new programs in the center,” said Mith Samlanh’s drug program team leader Ouch Taht Akmathak.

Currently the Kompong Speu cen­­ter simply does not have enough staff to monitor the more than 20 ad­dicts housed there, he said, though he did not disclose how many staff were at the center.

The group of six newcomers had only been at the facility for about two weeks and were likely struggling with their addiction, Ouch Taht Ak­ma­thak said.

“This is the most difficult time to be patient,” he said. “They become wild.”

Men Siborn added that authorities were planning to take the teen­agers to court, but instead returned them to the rehabilitation facility at the request of Mith Samlanh.


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