Cablegate: Cambodia Incsr Part I Submission

DE RUEHPF #1965/01 3050921
P 010921Z NOV 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 154928

1. The following is Embassy Phnom Penh's submission for the
narcotics section of the 2007 International Narcotics Control
Strategy Report as requested reftel.

2. Begin text:


I. Summary

The number of drug-related investigations, arrests and seizures in
Cambodia continued to increase in 2006. This reflects a significant
escalation in drug activity and perhaps some increase in law
enforcement capacity. The government is concerned at the increasing
use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) such as methamphetamines
and ecstasy (MDMA) among all socio-economic levels. The
government's principal counternarcotics policymaking and law
enforcement bodies, the National Authority for Combating Drugs
(NACD) and the Anti-Drug Department of the National Police,
respectively, cooperate closely with DEA, regional counterparts, and
the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Cambodia is a
party to the 1961, 1971, and 1988 UN Drug Conventions.

II. Status of Country

Cambodia has experienced a significant increase in recent years in
the amount of ATS transiting from the Golden Triangle. The World
Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as many as 150,000
methamphetamine tablets enter Cambodia each day. Many of these are
consumed domestically (as many as 50,000 per day in Phnom Penh
alone), though some are also thought to be re-exported to Thailand
and Vietnam. In addition, Cambodian drug control authorities and
foreign experts have reported the existence of ATS laboratories in
northwestern and southeastern Cambodia. There have also been
reports of mobile groups harvesting yellow vine and cinnamomum trees
in Cambodia's Cardamom mountains and extracting chemicals which can
be used as precursors for ATS production.

Cocaine use by wealthy Cambodians and foreigners in Cambodia is a
relatively small, but worrisome new phenomenon. Most cocaine
consumed in Southeast Asia originates in South America, particularly
Peru and Colombia, and transits via internal body couriers on
commercial air flights to regional narcotics distribution hubs in
Bangkok, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Guangzhou. Historically, a small
portion of the cocaine arriving in Bangkok has been sent on to
Cambodia for local use. Recently, there have been reports that
Cambodia has taken on a small but increasing role as a new
trafficking route, with cocaine coming by air from Kuala Lumpur or
Singapore, transiting via Phnom Penh, and arriving in Bangkok.

Cambodia is not a producer of opiates; however, it serves as a
transit route for heroin from Burma and Laos to international drug
markets such as Vietnam, mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and
Australia. Heroin and methamphetamine enter Cambodia primarily
through the northern provinces of Stung Treng and Preah Vihear, an
area bordering Laos and Thailand. Larger shipments of heroin,
methamphetamine and marijuana exit Cambodia concealed in shipping
containers, speedboats and ocean-going vessels. Smaller quantities
are also smuggled through Phnom Penh International Airport concealed
in small briefcases, shoes, and on the bodies of individual
travelers. Cannabis cultivation continues despite a government
campaign to eradicate it. There have been reports of continued
military and/or police involvement in large-scale cultivations in
remote areas. However, only small amounts of Cambodian cannabis
reach the United States.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2006

Policy Initiatives. Cambodian law enforcement agencies suffer from
limited resources, lack of training, and poor coordination. The
NACD, which was reorganized in 1999 and again in June 2006, has the
potential to become an effective policy and coordination unit. With
the backing of the Cambodian government, the UNODC launched in April
2001 a four-year project entitled "Strengthening the Secretariat of
the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) and the National
Drug Control Program for Cambodia". This project seeks, inter alia,
to establish the NACD as a functional government body able to
undertake drug control planning, coordination, and operations. The
project is currently slated to expire at the end of 2006 to be
replaced by a similar, but less ambitious, capacity building project
of one year duration in 2007.

Accomplishments. The NACD is implementing Cambodia's first 5-year
national plan on narcotics control (2005-2010), which focuses on
demand reduction, supply reduction, drug law enforcement, and
expansion of international cooperation. In 2006, the NACD trained

PHNOM PENH 00001965 002 OF 004

205 police officers, gendarmes, customs officials, seaport
officials, and border liaison officials in drug identification and
law enforcement. This training complements donor-provided training
to increase local law enforcement capacity to test seized substances
for use as evidence in criminal trials. In February 2005, the
National Assembly ratified the 1961, 1971 and 1988 UN Drug
Conventions. In 2005, the Cambodian government took decisive action
to strengthen previously weak legal penalties for drug-related
offenses. The new law drafted with help from the Anti-Drug
Department of the National Police provides for a maximum penalty of
$1 million fine and life imprisonment for drug traffickers, and
would allow proceeds from the sale of seized assets to be used
towards law enforcement and drug awareness and prevention efforts.
However, some observers worry that the law is too complex for the
relatively weak Cambodian judiciary to use effectively.

Law Enforcement Efforts. According to NACD reports, 439 people
(mostly Cambodians) were arrested for various drug-related offenses
in the first nine months of 2006. Total seizures of heroin for
January to September 2006 were 13.4 kilograms. Police arrested 18
people in heroin-related cases in January to September 2006,
including six Taiwanese individuals with more than 10 kilograms of
heroin hidden in their bodies and bags at Phnom Penh International
Airport. The number of arrests and amount of heroin seized during
the first nine months of 2006 exceed the total number of arrests and
quantity seized during all of 2005. While methamphetamine
trafficking is believed to be on the rise, the number of
methamphetamine pills confiscated in 2005 and the first nine months
of 2006 remain far below 2004 levels. Police arrested 465 people in
methamphetamine-related cases in January to September 2006 and
seized 322,761 methamphetamine pills and 3,722 grams of
methamphetamine and 485 small dose packets.

Corruption. The Cambodian government does not, as a matter of
government policy, encourage or facilitate illicit production or
distribution of drugs or controlled substances or launder proceeds
from their transactions. Nonetheless, corruption remains pervasive
in Cambodia, making Cambodia highly vulnerable to penetration by
drug traffickers and foreign crime syndicates. Senior Cambodian
government officials assert that they want to combat trafficking and
production; however, corruption, abysmally low salaries for civil
servants, and an acute shortage of trained personnel severely limit
sustained advances in effective law enforcement. The judicial
system is weak, and there have been numerous cases of defendants in
important criminal cases having charges against them dropped after
paying relatively small fines.

In July 2006, Heng Pov, the former chief of the Anti-Drug Police,
fled Cambodia and alleged that high-ranking government officials and
well-connected businessmen were involved in drug trafficking, but
were not prosecuted due to government pressure. It is difficult to
assess the credibility of these claims. At the Consultative Group
(CG) meeting in December 2004, a group of donor countries jointly
proposed a new benchmark for Cambodian government reform:
forwarding an anti-corruption law which meets international best
practices to the National Assembly. The government agreed to meet
this benchmark by the next CG meeting, which was held in March 2006.
Unfortunately, the government failed to meet this deadline and, as
of October 2006, has still not completed the law. An informal donor
working group, including the US, has worked closely with the
government to produce a draft that meets international best
practices. In addition, at each quarterly meeting of the
Government-Donor Coordinating Committee, the international community
has highlighted the government's still un-met commitment and
outlined the international best practices to be included. Cambodia
is not a party to the UN Convention Against Corruption.

Agreements and Treaties. Cambodia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug
Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and
the 1961 UN Single Convention. Cambodia is a party to the UN
Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols
against migrant smuggling
and illegal manufacturing and trafficking in firearms.

Cultivation/Production. During the first nine months of 2006, 144
square meters of cannabis plantations were destroyed and eight
people were arrested.

Drug Flow/Transit. Cambodia shares porous borders with Thailand,
Laos, and Vietnam and lies near the major trafficking routes for
Southeast Asian heroin. Drugs enter Cambodia by both primary and
secondary roads and rivers across the northern border. Many
narcotics transit through Cambodia via road or river networks and
enter Thailand and Vietnam. Enforcement of the border region with
Laos on the Mekong River, which is permeated with islands and
mangroves, is nearly impossible due to lack of boats and fuel among
law enforcement forces. At the same time, recent improvement in
National Road 7 and other roads is increasing the ease with which

PHNOM PENH 00001965 003 OF 004

traffickers can use Cambodia's rapidly developing road network--a
trend likely to continue as further road and bridge projects are

Large quantities of heroin and cannabis, and small amounts of ATS,
are believed to exit Cambodia via locations along the
Gulf--including the deep water port of Sihanoukville--as well as the
river port of Phnom Penh.

Airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap suffer from lax customs and
immigration controls. Some illegal narcotics transit these airports
en route to foreign destinations. In May 2006, police and customs
officials arrested three Taiwanese nationals, two of whom were
carrying a total of more than 7 kg of heroin which they intended to
smuggle to Taiwan on commercial flights. In September 2006, the
Anti-Drug Police arrested four South Americans who had swallowed a
total of more than 4 kg of cocaine and smuggled it into Cambodia on
commercial flights.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). A nine-month report of the
NACD, from January to September 2006, states the total number of
drug users and addicts was 6,500, a figure provided by the Royal
Government of Cambodia's (RGC) Anti-Drug Department. NGOs and other
specialists working on this issue argue that the number of drug
users in Cambodia is probably far higher and is growing each year.
A study conducted by UNAIDS in 2005 estimated that at the end of
2004, there were 20,000 amphetamine users, 2,500 heroin users, and
1,750 intravenous drug users in Cambodia.

With the assistance of the UNODC, UNICEF, WHO, CDC, the Japanese
International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and NGOs, the NACD is
attempting to boost awareness about drug abuse among
Cambodians--especially Cambodian youth--through the use of
pamphlets, posters, and public service announcements. A UNODC
treatment and rehabilitation project, funded by the Japanese and
started in October 2006, provides services to addicts and works to
increase the capacity of health and human services to deal
effectively with drug treatment issues. This project will work at
four sites in three provinces, most likely in Phnom Penh,
Battambang, and Banteay Meanchey. Several local NGOs, including
Mith Samlanh, Punloeu Komar Kampuchea, Cambodian Children and
Handicap Development (CCHDO), Goutte d' Eau, Cambodian Children
Against Starvation Association (CCASVA) and Street Children
Assistance for Development Program (SCADP), have taken active roles
in helping to rehabilitate drug victims across the country.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Policy Initiatives. For the first time in over three decades, there
is relative political stability in Cambodia. However, Cambodia is
plagued by many of the institutional weaknesses common to the
world's most vulnerable developing countries. The challenges for
Cambodia include: nurturing the growth of democratic institutions
and the protection of human rights; providing humanitarian
assistance and promoting sound economic growth policies to alleviate
the debilitating poverty that engenders corruption; and building
human and institutional capacity in law enforcement sectors to
enable the government to deal more effectively with narcotics
traffickers. One unique challenge which Cambodia faces is the loss
of many of its best trained professionals in the Khmer Rouge period
(1975-1979), as well as during the subsequent Vietnamese occupation.
Performance in the area of law enforcement and administration of
justice must be viewed in the context of Cambodia's profound
underdevelopment. Even with the active support of the international
community, there will be continuing gaps in performance for the
foreseeable future.

Bilateral Cooperation. US restrictions on assistance to the central
government of Cambodia, in place from the political disturbances of
1997 until the present reporting period, hampered US-Cambodia
bilateral counternarcotics cooperation. Cambodia regularly hosts
visits from Bangkok-based DEA personnel, and Cambodian authorities
cooperate actively with DEA, including in the areas of joint
operations and operational intelligence sharing. In January and
March 2006, immigration, customs, and police officials attended
Basic Counternarcotics and Airport Interdiction courses funded by
the State Department and taught by DEA Special Agents.

DOD conducted Joint Interagency Task Force-West (JIATF-West)
training missions in Battambang in November 2005, Koh Kong in
February 2006, and in Stung Treng province in June 2006. The
three-week programs increased the ability of Cambodian police,
military, and immigration officials to interdict transnational
threats, including narcotics. In 2006, JIATF-West and DEA partnered
to incorporate DEA trainers into the JIATF-West training missions,
bringing together military interdiction and law enforcement skills
into a coherent package.

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Through a USAID cooperative agreement, Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance
(KHANA) is supporting more than 80 local organizations engaged in
HIV/AIDS prevention throughout the country. In 2006, some of these
organizations included drug-related HIV/AIDS transmission issues in
their programs. Outreach efforts targeted at intravenous drug users
will continue, as such drug use is the quickest and most efficient
means of HIV transmission.

The Road Ahead. Cambodia is making progress toward more effective
institutional law enforcement against illegal narcotics trafficking;
however, its capacity to implement an effective, systematic approach
to counternarcotics operations remains low. Instruction for
mid-level Cambodia law enforcement officers at the International Law
Enforcement Academy in Bangkok (ILEA) and for military, police, and
immigration officers by JIATF-West has partially addressed
Cambodia's dire training needs. However, after training, these
officers return to an environment of scarce resources and pervasive
corruption. As part of the JIATF-West program, Cambodian officials
can be trained in land and maritime navigation and boat maintenance,
but equipment to perform these tasks is often shoddy or completely

US-Cambodia bilateral counternarcotics cooperation should improve in
FY07 as a result of the lifting of sanctions on military assistance
to Cambodia. The RGC is establishing a foreign military sales case
for $670,000 of excess defense articles. The acquisition of basic
soldier and unit equipment (such as uniforms, boots, first aid
pouches, compasses, cots, and tents) for the Army border battalions
will facilitate an increased ability to conduct patrols along the

The JIATF-West training events in FY07 will consist of two events in
Stung Treng province and one event in the Battambang/Banteay
Meanchey area, and will again include DEA trainers in addition to
military personnel. JIATF-West has also embarked on a training
infrastructure renovation project, which will renovate several law
enforcement and military facilities in Sisophon town and the
provinces of Preah Vihear and Stung Treng. Renovation will serve
both to facilitate future JIATF-West training and also to build the
capacity of Cambodian law enforcement and military authorities.

In addition, the US-based drug treatment organization Daytop
International will conduct three training sessions for Cambodian
government, non-government, and private sector drug prevention and
treatment professionals. These training sessions, which will be
funded by the State Department and will last approximately two weeks
each, are scheduled to start in December 2006. USAID is
collaborating with WHO and NGO partners to collect data on numbers
and behaviors of intravenous drug users and is supporting
intravenous drug use and HIV outreach services in Phnom Penh and
Siem Reap as a first step in addressing the growing problem of
illicit drug use.

End Text

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