Official Says Police Who Use Illegal Drugs Should Be Fired

Despite a promise from the chief of police in Kompong Cham province of an amnesty for officers who admit to using illegal drugs, an Interior Ministry official said Monday that two officers who have come forward should be fired.

On December 2, Kompong Cham police chief Ben Rath announced in a statement that officers in his province who use drugs must inform their supervisors and receive treatment, or face prosecution. The statement also says that any officers who come forward before January 1 would be allowed to continue to work for the police force.

Brigadier General Rath said Monday that abuse of methamphetamine is not uncommon in the ranks of police in Kompong Cham, and that since he issued the statement, two officers in the province have admitted to using drugs.

However, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak—who previously said Brig. Gen. Rath should have asked for permission from the ministry before issuing the statement—said that the two officers should be sacked.

“If he knows his police are using drugs, then why doesn’t he have measures to discipline [them]?” he said. “I think it is better to expel them from the ranks of the police.”

But because Brig. Gen. Rath had formally offered the officers amnesty, General Sopheak conceded, they would likely be allowed to hold on to their positions.

Khieu Samon, the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug police chief, said that under normal circumstances, officers found to be abusing illicit substances are asked to take a drug test by their superiors.

“If they find they are involved with drug use, they should fire them,” he said, adding that Brig. Gen. Rath’s actions “could affect the honor of the National Police.”

Brigadier General Iv Chamroeun, police chief in Kandal province, said that while he welcomed efforts to tackle drug use among police in Kompong Cham, he did not intend to follow suit without permission from the Interior Ministry.

“If any police officers in my province are involved with using drugs, we will punish them according to the law,” he said.

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