Cambodia and Australia agreed to deepen cooperation in the fight against transnational crime, with Australia pledging to provide cybercrime training to Cambodian police officers.

The two sides made the commitment during a meeting between senior Australian officials and Minister of Interior Sar Sokha, as he led a high-level delegation from the ministry to pay a one-week visit to Australia, which concluded on June 16.

In a meeting with Sokha, Australia’s Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Michelle Chan praised the good relations and cooperation between the two countries, reflected in the exchange of visits between Cambodian and Australian leaders, according to a June 16 press release from the ministry.

“Both sides also agreed on the need to deepen cooperation in the fight against transnational crime, illegal drugs, online fraud and human trafficking through the bilateral and ASEAN-Australia cooperation frameworks,” it said.

In a meeting with Australia’s Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles, the two sides exchanged views and experiences on immigration management, cybercrime, immigration-related legal document reform, immigration strategy and visa programme reform. They reaffirmed their willingness to further strengthen cooperation between the two ministries.

Regarding the fight against cybercrime, Sokha and Giles also saw the need to exchange technical and information experiences in a timely manner. Giles accepted Sokha’s request for training on cybercrime prevention skills to Cambodian police officers, said the press release. 

“[During the visit], the Cambodian and Australian sides expressed their willingness and agreed to explore the possibility of establishing cooperation in relevant specialty areas under the responsibility of the Cambodian interior ministry, Australian Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Federal Police in the future,” it said. 

The Cambodian delegation collected valuable insights and gained practical experience from the technical work of the Australian units and relevant officials, which will serve as crucial input for ongoing reform and modernisation efforts in the Kingdom, according to the press release.

Thong Mengdavid, a lecturer at the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Institute for International Studies, said Sokha’s visit to Australia underscores the strengthening relationship between the two countries, noting that Australia possesses advanced capabilities in intelligence gathering, human resources and technology to address potential cyber threats and counterintelligence.

“Cybersecurity is a significant concern for national security due to its covert and elusive nature. Australia has been a valuable partner to Cambodia's National Police, with Australian experts and officials sharing their expertise and information, enabling local authorities to pinpoint and prevent the threat from happening. 

“One of the key cooperation areas that Cambodia and Australia could work on is cyber exercises and simulations, as this joint exercise could enhance the readiness of both countries in responding to cyber incidents,” he told The Post on June 17. 

Mengdavid noted that digitalisation and information, communication and technology (ICT) are crucial for national growth and security. He emphasised the importance of recognising that global security threats have evolved, becoming more complex, sophisticated and dangerous, particularly in the realms of ICT, artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity and drone warfare.