Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today I have great honor and pleasure to join you all in the opening of this Ministerial Meeting of Signatory Countries on the 1993 Memorandum of Understanding on Drug Control Cooperation. At the outset, I would like to convey a warm greeting from His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihamony, the King of Cambodia and great wishes from people of Cambodia to all of you, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, may I welcome all your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen for coming to the land of Angkor to participate in this important meeting at the Siem Reap province, the city surrounded by splendid temples with a well crafted architecture and design which is one of the world wonders. During your stay in Siem Reap, I hope that Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen would take this exceptional opportunity to visit recreational areas, in particular the Angkor complex which is a great cultural achievement of human kinds and our famous historical heritage. I also would like to welcome all observers in this meeting and the ACCORD meeting here in Siem Reap a few days ago.
With opening of international borders and development of closer socio-economic relations between nations in different regions of the world, we all have faced with criminals that intent to interfere with our integration and to benefit from the above mentioned policies. What I am describing here is transnational organized crimes that can be compared to an evil, which appears every where and takes advantage on vulnerable ones for its own benefits.
In fact, this evil has many heads but one body. The body is a transnational crime that is well organized. One of its heads is the production and trafficking of illegal drugs. In this rapidly changing world, we are all facing with cheap and dangerous drug production, particularly drug produced from mixing different chemical substances that aiming at boys, girls, our youths as well as laborers. This is a challenging problem of future socio-economic sector for the nations in regions and one of main factors forcing the population into poverty.
Indeed, eradicating drug trafficking and production does not mean that we attained our objectives. As I have been emphasized the transnational organized crimes have many networks able to destroy our social foundations. Another network is related to human trafficking and undermining government system through corruption, which can affect the government administration, threaten the rule of laws as well as rights of people. Those criminals have to launder their money to make it “clean”. The money laundering is our main concern because those “dirty money” are supporting terrorist activities.
In order to eliminate transnational organized crimes or at least to minimize their activities, we have to make efforts to find counter-measures by mobilizing forces to crackdown the transnational crimes. To be successful on this matter, we must have a clear direction and set up different strategies basing on all of potential factors existed in the country as well as actively providing incentives, financial and human resource support from outside the region to help us.
At the same time, we can honestly question each other whether the Memorandum of Understand, which was created in the 1990 decade, still has all of the necessary strength to destroy this evil? Whether the Memorandum of Understanding can be a sharp sword to eliminate the network of transnational organized crimes? I think it is time that we have to review this Memorandum of Understanding to include all key matters of transnational organized crimes especially money laundering, human and weapon smuggling as well as corruption and terrorism to be parallel with the relevant regulations of the United Nations and other international organizations. I would like to table this issue for the meeting to consider and review for today and future discussions.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all and to highly appreciate the United Nations Office for Drug and Crimes for its continued efforts in helping the governments in this and other regions. Without this help, it would be difficult for us to prepare an effective preventive measure for every kind of drug control in the region and the world. I would like to appeal to all development partners in the international donor community to support UNODC’s works because the aid has been minimal in the past compared to the huge benefit for different governments.
I would like to give you an example about the UNODC in my country. It has provided important aid to develop National Authority for Combating Drugs as well as the national policy program for drug control by spending a minimal but sufficient budget. Therefore, I would like to officially propose to upgrade temporary office of UNODC in Cambodia into a residence office the same what UNODC has been doing in the neighboring countries in order to continue its important work, which is not only helping to support the 5 Years Drug Control Plan but also to coordinate our activities in combating transnational organized crimes especially corruption, money laundering and terrorism.
On behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to take this opportunity to express my profound thank and appreciation for the support and aid provided to Cambodia from other law enforcement institutions especially Australian Federal Police, Federal Drug Administration of the United States of America, French police, Canadian police and Japanese police etc. All of these cooperation and support are highly valuable and I would like to appeal to my officers to continue the active cooperation with all of international police forces.
To enhance the cooperation and drug control in Cambodia as well as the cooperation with other countries in the region and the world, we are now reviewing the Royal Decree on the establishment of National Authority for Combating Drugs and the sub-decree on the organization and process of the secretariat of the National Authority for Combating Drugs to be as quick as possible before the end of 2005. The amendment is aimed to make this institution to be independent, to have annual budget and comprehensive civil servant framework to enable them to work more efficiently in coordinating and leading the drug control activities in Cambodia.
Moreover, we have submitted to the National Assembly for approval on the United Nations Treaty on Anti Transnational Organized Crimes and its three protocols. We have been cooperating with the international law experts in preparing law on combating corruption in accordance to the international standard. We are pushing for the ratification of the remaining treaties on combating terrorism with the support from UNODC and other donors such as Australian and British governments.
In the past years, we have achieved a lot of works in collecting information on illegal drug usage as well as detaining and seizing drugs in the half of the cities and provinces in Cambodia through the support from UNODC. I understand that such progress has also been made in the countries, that have ratified the Memorandum of Understanding.
Through the analyse and data collection, we, in terms of national, bi-lateral, multi-lateral and regional mechanism, are able to develop low-cost but highly efficient strategies and to specifically prevent the threat from drug trafficking. I hope that donor community will provide necessary resources to enable MOU signatory countries to develop capability on national data collection, which is considered as a prioritized matter.
At the same time, while the data on place, which has heavy drug trafficking, but the government officers are not able to collect enough evidences on the scene or the judicial system and police do not effectively cooperate to enforce the law, the final result will be in question. On the other hand, transnational organized crimes have occurred in many countries, so the question is how the crimes can be jointly combated if there is no cooperation of transnational law enforcement and mutual and effective help in judiciary? Therefore, if a part of the region is equipped with both equipments and techniques to combat illegal drug trafficking, regional and international communities should support the poor countries to assure that those countries will not become the victim of transnational organized crimes.
For Cambodia, it is necessary to reform the judicial system as well as to fight against corruption among law enforcement officials, military, police and courts within an immediate framework. We clearly understand that only with such reform that we can provide supports to our partners in the regions and other places in all forms related to sentencing in the cases of drug trafficking and production. Moreover, the mutual-help cooperation within a regional law framework is one of the good steps forward to reveal about the network of transnational organized crimes. They can run, but they have no place to hide from law and effective sentence.
For instance, we have to work together as a regional working group to develop consultation, treatment and drug rehabilitation services by using community as a base and considering illegal drug users as victims rather than criminals who should be imprisonment. A special concern should be concentrated on using “YABA” drug among youth who are the economic resources to build peace and prosperity in the future of our countries.
In this spirit, it is necessary to share our experiences to reduce the demand of illegal drugs particularly amphetamines that provide unhealthy boost of energy among the youth. As an initial point, we are able to set up regional low cost, effective, targeted and estimate-able strategies that are able to provide knowledge and wide prevention, that include halting HIV transmition via sexual intercourse under the influence of drug and other drug injection.
In short, we all have a foundation to set up procedures and various cooperation that is an international treaty for drug control in 1961, 1971 and 1988. Also, I would like to emphasize that Cambodia has ratified the three treaties and amended Law on Drug Control in the way to increase the punishment to the maximum. Recently, we continue to improve our capabilities and to appeal for the international supports to enable Cambodia to be qualified with conditions of those three treaties. We hope that we will obtain full support for human resources development and effectiveness of our capacities building to combat transnational organized crimes, women and children trafficking as well as combating money laundering and terrorism.
The issues that I pointed out today are really important and we are under the serious challenges. I urge you all to double your efforts to build trust in all forms of cooperation to combat the transnational organized crimes and in drug control. Again, I would like to reaffirm the willingness of the Royal Government, which is always a real and effective partner in regional mechanism framework among the signatory countries of MOU in 1993 on the drug control cooperation as well as bi-lateral and multi-lateral cooperation mechanism to fight against our common enemy.
Finally, I wish the meeting to be successful and to obtain fruitful result. I wish you have a safe and joyful accommodation here. I would like to officially open Ministerial Meeting of the Signatory Countries on the 1993 Memorandum of Understanding on Drug Control Cooperation.