Tougher Sentences Sought for Drug Smugglers

The National Authority for Com­bating Drugs has submitted an amendment to the drug law that would target smugglers and stiffen drug-related sentences, an official said Tuesday.At a Focal Point meeting at the Juliana Hotel, Lour Ramin, permanent deputy secretary-general of NACD, said the draft amendment has been approved by the Ministry of Justice and is waiting to be considered for adoption by the new National Assembly.

“His Excellency Sar Kheng, min­ister of the Interior and chairman of NACD, has decided with other NACD officials to make a law amendment to increase the punishment for drug smugglers,” Lour Ramin said.

Currently, the law states that people convicted of drug charges can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison or fined 10 million to 20 million riel (about $2,500 to $5,000).

The amended law would permit a judge to impose a prison sentence and a fine.

Graham Shaw of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said he welcomed the amendment.

“UNODC views [the proposed amendment] as a very positive step forward. The current penalty clauses are very lenient, and don’t act as a sufficient deterrent.”

The meeting was held to help establish a basic drug-use surveillance system throughout Cambo­dia.

“The development of clear data concerning trends in drug use will inform the preparation of the National Drug Control Pro­gram, [which is] aimed at reducing drug trafficking and production,” Lour Ramin said.

He added that drug use and smuggling have increased in both urban and rural areas in 2003, citing the confiscation of 200,000 illicit methamphetamine pills this year, compared with only 100,000 pills in 2002. (Addi­tional reporting by Christopher St John)


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