PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodian authorities have arrested more than 4,800 people in a two-month-old campaign against drugs and that number could more than double, the country’s drug czar said on Tuesday.
The campaign in Cambodia has drawn parallels with the drug crackdown in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte, but Prime Minister Hun Sen has said that in Cambodia it will not lead to bloodshed.
Giving the latest arrest figures at an event in Phnom Penh, Deputy Prime Minister Ke Kim Yan said there were officially estimated to be more than 12,000 drug users in Cambodia, but the real number could be much higher.
“There are other drug users who do it quietly and their parents hide them from authorities so the number could be twice or triple that,” said Kim Yan, who also chairs the National Authority for Combating Drugs.
“In just two months, more than 4,000 people were arrested so the arrests may reach 10,000,” he said.
Kim Yan did not say how many people had been charged.
Those arrested for drugs offences are taken to rehabilitation centres, the condition of which has been criticised by human rights groups.
Kim Yan said the government would build two more centres for long term drug addicts. He said they would be treated there and could also find work on nearby pig farms or palm oil plantations.
Reporting by Prak Chan Thul