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R’kiri police close ‘porn cafe’, citing cultural impacts

A CAFE owner in Ratanakkiri province was arrested on Tuesday and ordered to close his business after he was accused of screening pornographic videos, local authorities said.

Ratanakkiri provincial police Chief Rai Ray said authorities closed the Lorn Monorum Cafe, which had opened just 10 days earlier, after discovering it was screening pornographic films, arresting 20 patrons along with the owner.

“I have the right to close any business that dares to show pornographic movies, because I’m worried that they’ll degrade our culture, especially the culture of local ethnic minorities,” he said. “I won’t allow these kinds of cases to happen in my province.”

Patrons detained in the raid were held for about four hours while police lectured them on the ills of watching pornographic material, which they fear will be adopted and mimicked by local minorities.

“It is my responsibility to teach nightclub and karaoke parlour owners not to show pornographic movies or offer sexual services, and I will close their businesses without negotiation if they do,” Rai Ray said.

But Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the crackdown was a useless publicity stunt that did nothing to solve the underlying problem, since the suppliers of the movies and local power elites remained unpunished.

“Criminal businessmen usually pay bribes in order to keep their business open, even though they know what they are doing is illegal, so I think the crackdown is inefficient,” he said.

He said it would be more effective for the police to take sustained action against perpetrators at every level of the illegal business.

“It’s a good way to stop people watching pornographic movies and at the same time stop the production of pornographic movies. And it is good
for the police, too, because they don’t have to bother with crackdowns,” he said.

Ratanakkiri provincial Military Police Chief Tuy Sim said he could not confirm when the cafe owner would face court.

“The coffee shop owner was released on bail, but I will send his case to the court so they can punish him as a lesson to all the other people who want to show pornographic movies,” he said.

The arrest comes less than a week after Phnom Penh authorities launched a new crackdown against the sale of pornographic and other pirated DVDs and VCDs.

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