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Minister of Interior Sar Kheng attends the annual City Hall meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh. Facebook
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng attends the annual City Hall meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh. Facebook

Guns issue pushed again

Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday repeated a call he made 12 months ago, asking City Hall and law enforcement officials to crack down on the unchecked use of weapons in Phnom Penh that was fuelling violent and armed crimes.

Speaking at the City Hall annual meeting yesterday, Kheng said armed crimes would go down only if officials tracked down and controlled the use of weapons, including those belonging to police and armed forces staffers, saying a failure to do so was creating a bad image for the country and capital.

“All armed forces chiefs need to control and check the use of weapons through their institutions strictly,” he said.

“The National Police commissioner needs to strengthen the handing out of permission letters for the use of guns and should comply with the procedures that have been set.”

Kheng added that if gun-related crimes, such as armed robberies, increased unabated, it could have a spillover effect into other law enforcement areas.

“When weapons are all over and these weapons fall into the hands of other perpetrators drug traffickers and drug users – it will make the issue even more complicated,” he added.

Yesterday’s speech was very similar to one he made at last year’s annual City Hall meeting. At the time, he also called for officials to stem the flow of illicit weapons into Cambodia via smuggling channels.

Following a spate of violent crimes in late 2015, including the killing of two civilians by an off-duty police officer, Phnom Penh police chief Chhoun Sovann announced stricter gun controls that prohibited police and other security forces from keeping their guns with them while they are off duty.

City Hall spokesman Mean Chanyada yesterday promised what was essentially the same pledge local government made to Kheng last year.

“Phnom Penh Municipality already has meetings [with law enforcement officials] two times a month and in the next meeting, we will place this agenda and make a real implementation plan,” he said.

San Chey, executive director for the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said that it was not surprising hearing Kheng repeat himself, given that there was no initiative from senior officials to take the issue seriously.

“As long at the top leaders of the [police and armed] forces will be inactive, the measures will be inactive too,” he said.

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