Cambodia asked Australia to provide more support for the training of the Kingdom’s police officers in the fight against cybercrime, which is on the rise across Asia.
The request was made during a March 8 meeting between National Police chief Neth Savoeun and Australian Federal Police (AFP) Asia commander Peter Sykora in Phnom Penh.
According to a National Police social media post, Savoeun praised the “close relationship” between the police leadership of the two countries and thanked the AFP for its support.
The support includes providing advisers to formulate Cambodia’s National Police policies, supporting the establishment of the Transnational Crime Team (TCT) and providing capacity building for the Kingdom’s police officers. It also included assistance in building new facilities and other large-scale projects.
“Savoeun expressed his appreciation for the cooperation requested Australia provide more support, especially in the specialised training needed to fight cybercrime, which is unfortunately a growing trend across Asia,” said the post.
“Sykora praised the outcome of cooperation between the AFP and Cambodian National Police through the TCT, and thanked Savoeun for his continued support of the AFP. Australia values the TCT Cambodia team as a model that will be established in
other countries in the future. The AFP pledged to continue to support the Cambodian National Police,” it added.
It said Sykora also congratulated Cambodia on its removal from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list for money laundering and noted the National Police’s contribution to the removal.
Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, said digitalisation is essential for promoting national development and state security, but cautioned that the evolving nature of global security has shifted toward more dangerous, modern and lethal trends, in the areas of IT, cybersecurity and drone warfare.
“Cybersecurity is a serious threat to state security due to its subtle, shadowy nature,” he said.
“Australia would be a valuable partner to the National Police. The Australians could share the skills they have so local authorities could conduct a SWOT analysis on cybersecurity matters,” he told The Post on March 9.
Mengdavid said that due to its transboundary nature, cybercrime is very much a threat to Cambodia.
“There is a need for increased cooperation with international partners, so we can learn from their expertise,” he said.
Separately on March 8, Savoeun instructed all police officers to continue to protect the peace and stability of the Kingdom.
“This means cracking down on all forms of crime, whether online or in person, or domestic or international. I would also like to see a focus on protecting women and children,” he said at an annual meeting of the Ministry of Interior and National Police on March 8.
He added that officers who are stationed near the borders need to work closely with the military to help protect the Kingdom’s territorial integrity.
“They should also be cooperating with the officers of neighbouring countries to eliminate cross-border crimes. This cooperation should take the form of cross-training and the sharing of intelligence,” he said.
“This work is important because it is one of the keys to the successful implementation of the government’s ‘safe village-commune’ policy,” he added.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, said he supported Savoeun’s remarks though he was concerned that some lower-level officers were not as responsive to the public as people would like. He suggested that more attention be paid to this issue.
“It may affect social order, or even lead to a reduction of public confidence in the Kingdom’s law enforcement authorities,” he said, adding that any officers who violated Cambodian law should be prosecuted to the fullest extent.
Deputy National Police chief Chhay Kim Khoeun said the overall crime rate decreased by nine per cent in 2022, largely due to the arrests of more than 13,000 suspects in more than 6,000 drug-related cases.
Savoeun also insisted that emergency intervention work be strengthened.
“A team needs to be monitoring the police command 117 hotline and social media at all times, and a quick reaction force should be on standby to respond immediately to requests for help from the public,” he said.