The National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) is set to beef up the implementation of drug-free village-commune mechanisms this year, with localities along the Kingdom’s borders targeted.

NACD secretary-general Meas Virith said this will be implemented in partnership with neighbouring countries: Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Virith said the partnership would see the implementation of the drug free-village mechanisms in conjunction with the existing “safe village-commune” policy.

“The drug problem is part of the safe village-commune policy, but the difference is that the drug free village-commune mechanism requires more components, especially the participation of influential people – those who can educate people about the dangers of drugs,” he said.

After conducting education campaigns, a group would be created at the local level to encourage drug addicts to seek treatment at one of the 451 health centres designated by the Ministry of Health.

“We are prepared to implement the mechanisms this year. We will also address the challenges we encountered in 2022,” said Viruth.

He added that one of the biggest challenges came from the large criminal organisations which trafficked or manufactured narcotics.

“The problem is not limited to Cambodia – the entire world is facing an increase in the production of illegal drugs. We need to provide more training to front-line law enforcement officers so they can control the spread of pre-cursor chemicals. Without these chemicals, no drugs can be created,” he concluded.

Mondulkiri deputy provincial governor Cheak Mengheang said local authorities have long called for increased protection against the scourge of the drug trade.

“We are prepared to implement the new national policy. We are just waiting on instructions,” he said.

Stung Treng Provincial Hall spokesman Men Kong said a drug-free policy is an excellent strategy to fight drug-related crimes, adding that it is also important to educate youths about the impact of drugs.

“The drug free village-commune mechanisms will complement the existing safe village-commune policy and we expect to see a reduction in drug offences,” he added.

“Because this policy will be implemented near the borders, it should have an effect on drug trafficking, production and processing,” he explained.

LICADHO deputy director Am Sam Ath claimed that drug use in Cambodia has shown no sign of slowing down, and that a rise in drug use in rural areas is a major cause for concern.

“They have a detrimental effect on the Kingdom’s human resource potential, especially among the youth. The number of drug dealers – and their buyers – seems to be growing, and law enforcement efforts to quell the problem need to keep pace,” he said.

He said making the villages and communes along the border drug-free would be ideal, but it would require serious commitment and resourcing.

“To prevent the flow of drugs, authorities at all levels must stay away from drugs and enforce the law. The drug free village-commune policy will only work if the authorities and the public work together to suppress drug use,” he said.