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Crime rate down in Phnom Penh


Police weigh and catalogue a variety of illegal narcotics that were seized during a raid in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Police and government figures claim human trafficking, drug crimes, assaults, gambling and “gangster” activity in the Kingdom’s capital city have dropped in the past six months.

According to a Phnom Penh Commissariat report issued last week, from January to July this year, 334 people were arrested, with 52 sent to court for felonies and 157 for misdemeanors.

Of the 261 crimes, 85 were for drug trafficking, 41 for human trafficking, 12 for gambling offences and two for using illegal weapons.

However, Eric Meldrum, operations director for anti-human trafficking and exploitation group SISHA, said the statistics were vague and misleading.

“These figures are not broken down – what they count as human trafficking may not necessarily be that,” Meldrum said, noting that the number of trafficking incidents published by the East West Management Institute was less than a quarter of that released by Cambodian authorities.

“If you look at what the US considers a human trafficking charge, they do not carry a lot of the articles this government does for trafficking," added Meldrum. “The government needs to report on what they are actually charging on . . . you just have to be wary of these kinds of statistics.”

Meldrum said the legislation covering the 206 “gangster” crimes was “a law to detain young people being rowdy . . . it’s not what we would typically associate with gangster- or mafia-type behaviour”.

However, Phnom Penh Police Commissariat chief Touch Naroth said the decline was simply a product of increased police presence and vigilance.

Long Dimanche, spokesman for Phnom Penh City Hall, said yesterday that crime was more rampant during the corresponding period in 2011.

To contact the reporters on this story: Claire Knox at
Khoun Leakhana at



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