A senior official at the Ministry of National Defence said on Wednesday that the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ (RCAF) infantry had busted 5,193 crimes along the Kingdom’s borders last year, including drug trafficking, illegal logging and the movement of unregistered migrant workers.
General Chhum Socheat was speaking following the publishing of the ministry’s annual report, adding that the situation was a marked improvement on 2017.
“Over 5,000 cases were related to illegal border crossings, drugs and illegal logging, as well as illegal migrant workers crossing. We continue to implement the Royal Government’s policies, and have good cooperation with neighbouring countries to jointly prevent crimes that occur along the borders,” he said.
He added that the RCAF had strengthened the defence of the nation along its borders with increased patrols to prevent crimes and other illegal cross-border activities.
Mondulkiri province’s indigenous network head Kreung Tola said that in the past there were many cases of illegal logging which resulted in timber being transported over the border to Vietnam. But he said that as of last month, such activities seemed to be decreasing.
Tola also expressed concern over the illegal flow of Vietnamese fruit and vegetables across the border impacting Cambodian farmers.
Socheat said the RCAF continued to cooperate with neighbouring countries to implement tasks to safeguard territorial integrity.
“It’s much better than in 2017. We had no serious problems. Along the border lines, we cooperated well together. When we faced any problems, we cooperated well with each other and settled the problems along the border peacefully, which made the entire border situation peaceful [last] year,” he said.
Cambodia’s borders with neighbouring countries have often proved a source of contention, as French colonial forces failed to properly demarcate many border areas upon granting Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam – the nations comprising the colony of French Indochina – their independence in the 1950s.
In August 2017, a border dispute occurred between Cambodia and Laos as the latter’s troops crossed the border and stationed in Stung Treng province’s Siem Pang district.
Both nations’ prime ministers wrote to French President Emmanuel Macron asking him to provide them with more detailed maps, historical documents and other experts to help resolve the dispute.