Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief Choun Sovann has warned traffic police officers that they will be fired and punished under the law if they are caught taking bribes, an official said yesterday.
Sovann made the threat during a meeting with traffic police on Wednesday, according to municipal traffic police chief Chev Hak, who said Sovann was frustrated that there will still dirty traffic police.
“The punishment for traffic police officials is correct since the [Anti-Corruption Law] exists,” Hak said, adding that he would ensure his officers were more closely monitored to check if they take bribes.
Sovann could not be reached for comment.
Run Roth Veasna, head of the public order department at the Ministry of Interior, said Sovann also asked for the Anti-Corruption Law to be used against police, and that he welcomed his appeal. “He called on the traffic police officers in Phnom Penh, and educated them one last time,” Roth Veasna said. He said traffic police make on average $200 to $250 a month in salary, but often handed out fake citations to people to supplement that income.
“If the law enforcers are wrongly fulfilling their obligations, they must be [written up], dismissed or relegated,” Roth Veasna said. “Some officials fulfil their obligations properly, but some [do] not.”
Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said that verbal warnings to traffic police was only the first step in stopping graft. He said that senior police officials had to reject dirty money, and carry through on threats of punishment.
“Warnings and rhetoric are sometimes necessary to remind officers, but they are only effective if mechanisms are established to ensure officers comply with the laws and regulations,” Kol said. “In addition, leaders at various levels must show good examples by not getting involved in corruption.”
The new Traffic Law, passed at the start of the year, stipulates that 70 percent of fine revenue must be redistributed back to traffic officers. The move was made to encourage traffic police to submit the fines they collect to the state instead of pocketing them.
“This seems to have reduced the incidence of police officers taking bribes on the streets,” Kol said.