Officers involved in drug seizures of 1 kilogram or more will earn a $10,000 bonus as part of the government’s new financial incentives for officials who break up drug rings, Interior Minister Sar Kheng announced on Wednesday.
Speaking on the second day of a two-day National Authority for Combating Drugs conference in Phnom Penh, Mr. Kheng said giving rewards to units and individual officers who have “high achievements” in cracking down on drug-related crime will “push productivity.”
“To encourage them, especially the law enforcement officers, I have already prepared,” he said. “If we bust 1 kilogram of drugs, there is a reward of 40 million riel of cash, which is about $10,000.”
Mr. Kheng also announced there were discussions with the Justice Ministry to expedite the seizure of drug traffickers’ assets, which would then be used as bonuses and pumped into fighting drug crime.
“We are trying to look for legal methods…in order to confiscate the assets of the drug traffickers to make them the state’s assets,” he said.
“All the assets will be used for the encouragement [of officials] and means for cracking down on drug crime with all concerned officials,” he said, referring to police, military police and court officials.
In January, the government started a six-month anti-drug campaign, promising to crack down on traffickers. As of Tuesday, nearly 6,300 people had been arrested for drug-related crimes this year.
David Harding, an independent consultant who has worked on drug abuse prevention programs in Cambodia for more than a decade, was highly skeptical that financial rewards would do anything to stem the country’s high-level drug trafficking.
“This is something that they should be doing every day anyway,” he said.” It’s their job.”
However, “if they are going to reward police officers for high achievement, they should be rewarding those that are investigating high-level drug cartel traffickers, not mules,” he said.
“They are the people that are running this trade. Those are the arrests that should be rewarded.”
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