The Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Drug Department has released a statement regarding a video posted on social media showing a group of police officers using force on three men.
The men, the department said, were in fact suspects in a drug case who resisted arrest and, therefore, had to be forcefully restrained by the authorities and taken into custody.
The department made its clarification after the clip was posted online on December 26 by social media user Ot Khvol.
In the video, police could be seen beating up the three men on Christmas night. The police were also said to be shouting threats to citizens, saying they would be shot if they took photographs of the incident.
Responding to accusations of police brutality, the department said it had cracked down on a drug trafficking and distribution ring on the day of the incident.
The drugs were said to have been sold along National Road 5 in the capital’s Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune.
“At the time, police officials tried to detain the suspects immediately but they resisted. This prompted a scuffle which caught nearby residents by surprise. Some of them simply watched, while others took out their phones to record the scene.
“The suspects used the opportunity to twist the story as they asked for help and accused the police of extortion.
“Not wanting to let the situation escalate, the police were forced to take tougher measures against the suspects. They initially planned to take them from the scene by motorcycle to avoid further public disturbance.
“Before riding his motorcycle, one of our officers gave his pistol to another officer to avoid the risk of it being grabbed by any of the suspects.
“However, the suspects were stubborn and refused to get on the vehicles. It was not until a van arrived that police were able to get them away.
“Contrary to what was said, our police did not use any weapons. They did not threaten citizens either, but only asked them not to record the scene as we still had to conduct a police investigation,” the department said.
In light of the incident, the Anti-Drug Department cautioned citizens from posting or spreading information related to drug crimes as it could affect legal procedures and compromise ongoing investigations.
The police also appealed to citizens to avoid drawing conclusions about officers without enough evidence.
“If their conclusions are correct, it doesn’t matter. But if they’re wrong, it taints the image of the police and encourages offenders to commit graver offences,” the department said.
Anti-Drug Department deputy director In Song said the suspects had been charged with drug use and trafficking and had been detained in Prey Sar prison since December 29.
“Whenever the public sees operations against offenders, I urge them to conduct clear and comprehensive research first before making any assumptions,” said Song.