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Municipal police leave a meeting outside Phnom Penh’s Wat Botum earlier this week
Municipal police leave a meeting outside Phnom Penh’s Wat Botum earlier this week. HONG MENEA

Enforced ‘charity’ ends

The head of the National Police has issued a directive to all departments, provinces and municipalities, ordering them to stop deducting money from officers’ salaries for so-called “charitable work” each month, according to a copy of the document obtained.

In the August 22 directive, signed by National Police chief Neth Savoeun, all police forces under the purview of the National Police were ordered to restrict their deductions to those intended for the officers’ professional organisation, the Police Association, whose purpose is to disburse funds to officers in times of hardship.

The announcement comes on the heels of allegations in a note stuffed in a ballot box on July 28. In it, a soldier stationed in Preah Vihear accused his commanding officers of skimming money from soldiers’ salaries.

“In departments, entities and provincial/municipal police sta­tions that fail to implement the instruction, the leaders must be held responsible under the regulations, disciplines and laws,” the directive reads.

According to one police officer, who declined to be named, not all of the money deducted from salaries for “charitable work” goes to charity.

“My superior has deducted from my money since the Preah Vihear conflicts. One police officer has 40,000 riel (about $10) deducted per month, and a cut of the money is for the [Cambodian People’s] Party – more than 10,000 riel depending on their rank,” he said. He added that he welcomed the directive but those above him were none too happy to lose out on their cut of subordinates’ pay.

“Our salary is low, and it is almost all deducted, so I was happy when I heard this news.”

A normal officer’s salary, he added, ranges from $125 to $150 per month, but monthly cuts of more than $12.50 made it almost impossible to support his family.

Chan Soveth, a senior investigator for rights group Adhoc, said collecting money for charity is one thing, but such deductions “should be discussed beforehand, to see whether or not it is agreed to”.

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