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Ministry records fewer crimes against tourists

LOCAL and provincial police must step up efforts to combat crime and increase security for citizens as well as tourists, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng told officials at the Ministry of Interior’s annual conference this week.

Sar Kheng said strengthening the ability of officials to enforce the law would be key to lowering crime rates. Government statistics suggest crimes against tourists in Cambodia fell last year compared to the previous year.

In 2008, the Ministry of Interior recorded 769 cases of crimes against tourists, compared with 541 for 2009, said spokesman Khieu Sopheak. Most fell victim to petty crime such as robbery. Twenty tourists also reportedly died as a result of crime.

Authorities also recorded instances of tourists committing crimes themselves. “We found that 33 crimes were committed by the tourists themselves, but we helped them to resolve 419 complaints made by tourists,” Khieu Sopheak said.

For the coming year, the ministry is encouraging local police to step up security measures.

“We will encourage the local police stations to have an intervention police force to work 24 hours a day to curb crimes on time,” he said.

Am Sam Ath, a monitor for local rights group Licadho, said the government should take stronger measures to guard against foreigners who enter Cambodia to smuggle drugs.

“We are concerned the global financial crisis will encourage tourists to enter Cambodia for committing crimes,” he said. “Laws on foreign immigration should be strengthened.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen presided over the close of the conference Thursday, renewing his call for the Interior Ministry to step up its security efforts.
“We still have complex issues with people living here temporarily, as well as migrants,” Hun Sen said.

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