Search

 

Cablegate: Cambodia: Effective Narcotics Control And

VZCZCXRO9384
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0782/01 1590744
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 080744Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8534
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PHNOM PENH 000782

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP, INL/AAE--CHARLES BOULDIN, KISHA
TOWN AND INL/C/CJ--GREG STANTON
BANGKOK FOR NAS--TERRY DARU, DEA--SCOTT SEELEY-HACKER, PAT
CHAGNON, AND JOHN SWAIN
HANOI FOR DEA--JEFFREY WANNER AND POL--PETER ECKSTROM
VIENTIANE FOR NAS--CLIFF HEINZER
PACOM FOR JIATF-WEST--DAVID KILBOURN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR PGOV KCRM SOCI CB
SUBJECT: CAMBODIA: EFFECTIVE NARCOTICS CONTROL AND
TREATMENT FACE SUBSTANTIAL HURDLES

REF: A. PHNOM PENH 515

B. PHNOM PENH 536
C. PHNOM PENH 767

1. (SBU) Summary: Cambodia has a wide-ranging and growing
narcotics problem which the government has only limited
funding, equipment, skills, and political will to address.
During a May 21-23 visit to Phnom Penh, two INL officers
learned that drug use in Cambodia is growing, and that while
ATS use still accounts for the vast majority of use, drug
users are increasingly turning to other drugs as well. The
government is rapidly developing a large network of drug
treatment centers, but these facilities offer little beyond
boot camp-style discipline and are unlikely to be effective.
Cambodia's location near major drug-producing areas, combined
with its limited law enforcement effectiveness and
corruption, create an attractive target for drug trafficking
and other illegal behavior and make tackling these issues a
USG priority. End Summary.

Officials Outline Narcotics Successes and Needs
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) Cambodian narcotics and law enforcement officials
were enthusiastic about US assistance in combating drugs and
thanked the USG for its various training programs, including
INL-funded Daytop drug treatment training; INL-funded,
DEA-taught interdiction training; JIATF-West training
missions; and regular contact and advice from the DEA Bangkok
Country office. Col. Khieu Saman, the Deputy Director of the
Anti-Drug Police, highlighted several recent busts and drug
trends, and briefed the State Department team on the
methamphetamine super lab bust (refs A and B). INL/AAE Team
Leader and Poleconoff met with officers involved in the bust,
many of whom had completed INL-funded, DEA-taught
interdiction training in 2006, and congratulated them on
their success. National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD)
Secretary General Lour Ramin outlined the Cambodian drug

SIPDIS
trafficking and use problem, echoing many of the findings of
an earlier INL/embassy trip to the Lao border (ref C), and
describing recent busts. On the policy front, Lour Ramin
stated that in recent years the government has reformed the
NACD, amended the drug law, ratified three UN drug
conventions, finalized a five year plan for combating drugs,
and inserted drug issues into the national development plan.
He characterized Cambodia's weaknesses as limited drug
laboratory capability, a lack of equipment for law
enforcement officers, difficulty in disseminating information
to the field, and limitations in providing drug treatment.

Cambodian Drug Users: Young, Male, and Mostly Using ATS
--------------------------------------------- -----------

3. (U) NGOs working with drug users report that drug use is
growing across the country and the drug scene in Phnom Penh
is rapidly diversifying. Amphetamine-type stiumlants
(ATS)--which account for 80% of all drug use--and crystal
methamphetamine cross class and social barriers and touch all
segments of Cambodian society, from the homeless to the
wealthy children of the elite. In Phnom Penh, swallowing or
snorting ATS--a habit which often starts in junior high or
high school--sometimes leads users to experiment with
injecting ATS or using heroin or ecstasy. In rural areas,
ATS is essentially the only drug available, and is used
mainly by laborers (some who knowingly take the drug and
others who are told by their employers that they are taking
"vitamins") and young adults, although drug use is beginning
to spread to the general community.

4. (U) The NGO representatives noted that women and
minorities have different drug use patterns from Cambodian
males, who make up the vast majority of the nation's drug
users. Women are less likely to try drugs other than ATS,
and their drug use is often linked to sexual/romantic
activity such as prostitution or mistress relationships.
Ethnic Vietnamese make up a disproportionate share of
intravenous drug users, and strong anti-Vietnamese prejudices
often make it difficult for them to access the few health and
other services available.

New Drug Treatment Centers Open, but Quality Low
--------------------------------------------- ---

PHNOM PENH 00000782 002 OF 003

5. (SBU) The Cambodian government is undertaking an
aggressive campaign to open drug treatment centers in each
province. There are currently six operational government-run
centers (four of which have opened in the past two years) and
three centers which have been constructed but have not yet
accepted residents. A recent Cambodian government/UN joint
report catalogs shortcomings in the drug treatment system,
which in Cambodia has focused on military-run boot camps with
no therapeutic value. The report found that even
participants aged 18 or over are admitted based on their
parents' wishes or police direction rather than providing
consent themselves. Because incoming assessments are rarely
performed, the physical and mental health needs of
participants and their degree of drug dependence are unknown.
Centers do not have the medical staff needed to manage
withdrawal and other health issues and do not utilize
psychosocial therapies (such as cognitive behavior therapy,
motivational interviewing, and contingency management) which
are recognized as best practices in treating ATS dependence.
Finally, there is no attempt to follow up on discharged
participants or to refer them to community resources.

6. (SBU) INL Program Analyst, Poleconoff, and Polecon
Assistant visited two drug treatment centers--Orkas Khnom
("My Chance") Center, operated by the Phnom Penh
municipality, and Green House, operated by the NGO Mith
Samlanh. Staff at the My Chance Center had no prior
experience in drug treatment or related fields. Three staff
members had attended weeks 3 and 4 of Daytop's six week drug
treatment training program and were enthusiastic about
incorporating some of those techniques into their daily
routine. Nonetheless, other than Daytop's "morning
meeting"--which they use as a time to address community
concerns and give morality instruction--there is no group or
individual therapy and most of the day is filled with
agricultural labor, physical exercise, watching television,
and free time. Most of the 140 residents are homeless
individuals who are brought to the center by the police, and
their inclusion at the center seems to be driven more by an
interest in cleaning up Phnom Penh's streets than in
improving the lives of individual drug users: the center's
director repeatedly compared residents to animals and
described how their unkempt appearance and body odor could
frighten tourists and the general public.

7. (SBU) Green House is a far smaller operation (maximum
capacity 30 individuals) serving only street youth, run by
the well-respected NGO Mith Samlanh. In the absence of
social work degree programs, Green House recruits
college-educated professionals with backgrounds in teaching
or academic psychology to serve as counselors. Their
treatment plan includes medically supervised detoxification
and group and individual therapy sessions. As participants
end their treatment, they are referred to Mith Samlanh's
street youth center for 18 months to two years of vocational
training, education/literacy tutoring, and HIV treatment if
needed. All participants are followed up for three years
after leaving the Mith Samlanh programs. Green House reports
that they have a 25% recovery rate after one year--a rate
they proudly say is high compared to the international
average of 5%, but which they expect to decrease in future
years as their earliest participants are likely to be those
most motivated to kick their drug addiction.

Comment
-------

8. (SBU) Cambodia is starting from such a low base in its
narcotics and law enforcement sector that its needs can seem
overwhelming. To be sure, an effective strategy must not
only supply equipment and training, but must also provide
expert on-the-ground support to provide mentoring and
pressure to ensure that the police not only become more
effective at cracking down on small-scale smugglers and
users, but also go after the bigger players, who may be
well-connected and/or in positions of power. Effective
efforts to promote better drug treatment must recognize the
utter lack of trained professionals in this area and work
closely with existing well-run programs to share their
lessons learned about operating in the undeveloped Cambodian
social service sector. Cambodian officials are eager to earn

PHNOM PENH 00000782 003 OF 003


the respect of the international community for their
anti-drug efforts and welcome international assistance.
While change in this area is likely to be slow, Cambodia's
poor law enforcement, high levels of corruption, and location
make it an attractive target for drug smugglers and a
priority for the USG's drug control efforts. End Comment.
MUSSOMELI

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

New IPCC Report: ‘Unprecedented Changes’ Needed To Limit Global Warming

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require “far-reaching and unprecedented changes,” such as ditching coal for electricity to slash carbon emissions, says a special report that finds some of the actions needed are already under way, but the world must move faster… More>>

ALSO:

Jamal Khashoggi: UK, France, Germany Join Calls For Credible Investigation

Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. More>>

ALSO:

MSF Not Wanted: Nauru Government Shows Continued Callousness

The Nauruan Government’s decision to ask Doctors Without Borders to immediately leave shows continued callousness towards asylum seekers desperately seeking a safe place to call home, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said today. More>>

ALSO:

Sulawesi Quake, Tsunami: Aid Response Begins

Oxfam and its local partners are standing by to deploy emergency staff and resources to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, as an estimated 1.5 million people are thought to be affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit on Friday. More>>

ALSO:

Decriminalising Same-Sex Relationships: UN Rights Chief Applauds Indian Decision

“This is a great day for India and for all those who believe in the universality of human rights," Bachelet said. "With this landmark decision, the Indian Supreme Court has taken a big step forward for freedom and equality...” More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC