Phnom Penh Police to Be Tested for Drugs, Chief Says

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Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Sar Thet warned his officers on Monday that they would be drug tested and terminated if found to be using illegal substances.

“When standing for the national anthem, I talked to the force about new developments in the situation of the country and overseas, and I also announced that police officers were not to be involved with drugs, and that they will soon have a urine test,” Thet wrote on his Facebook page. “If any officers are found with drug-related substances, they will be fired from their unit.”

Thet told VOD that any officers caught would be sent for rehabilitation at a drug treatment center.  “If they volunteer, they can go for treatment at the center,” the municipal police chief said. “It is not drug dealing. A drug addict is a victim.”

Chheang Sokha, an adviser at the Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP), a local NGO, said similar actions had been announced in the past to little effect.

“If they are discovered, no matter whose son or relation they are, we have to do our best to be transparent to the public,” he said, calling for stricter enforcement. “This would be a good thing to do, setting a good example, and people will be able to start trusting the government. But in general, we see that it is rare.”

“What has been said will only remain something said,” he added.

“It makes people feel hopeless, frankly speaking.”

Interior Minister Sar Kheng on March 21 urged all police officers to work together to crack down on drug trafficking and illegal drug use, warning against any attempts by officers to interfere in investigations.

Authorities say they dealt with more than 8,000 drug-related incidents in 2018, and arrested more than 16,000 suspects, including 1,333 women.

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