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Over 400 netted in drug campaign since the New Year’s Day

Over 400 drug suspects, including 233 traffickers, have been arrested since the launch of a six-month anti-drug campaign on New Year's Day, The Phnom Penh Post Online reported on Friday.

This is just the start of the campaign and we are not yet reaching the whole country, said Interior Ministry's secretariat chief Kim Khoeun who is overseeing the campaign.

He said the suspected traffickers would be sent to jails while the heavy addicts would be sent for rehabilitation and the light users would be educated and treated.

Khoeun said the campaign was being carried out in tandem with preventive measures as suppression alone will not work.

David Harding, a drug prevention and treatment expert who has been working with drug users in Cambodia for the past 15 years said he agreed with the mass arrests, but noted that the measure would be a long-term solution.

He doubted the existing drug centres were equipped to deal with many people and the only alternative is prisons.

It never has anywhere and never will, he said. It is another attempt at war on drugs, and as we've seen in the past 25 to 30 years, that hasn't worked, he said.

Harding suggested that the government works with community-based treatment programmes to help drug users overcome their addictions.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)