Cultural crimes, in both their tangible and intangible forms, have significantly decreased with a reduction of over 1,100 cases in 2023, according to an official from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. 

Hab Touch, permanent secretary of state at the ministry, made the statement during the ministry’s annual meeting, being held from January 24-25.

He reported that tangible cultural crimes in 2023 fell by 1,181 cases to 4,035, down from 5,216 the previous year. 

“The crimes that saw a decrease included illegal construction, land grabbing, forest and wildlife crimes and so on. Illegal construction, as reported by the APSARA National Authority [ANA], declined from 5,026 cases to 3,897,” he stated.

Regarding intangible crimes, Touch noted incidents involving the unauthorised use of images of ancient artefacts for product advertisements on social media and statue construction that did not adhere to ministry-set standards. 

He said such cases totalled 43 in 2023, compared to 53 the previous year.

At the meeting, culture minister Phoeurng Sackona noted that the figures might not encompass all the entities and departments under the ministry. 

“However, I am concerned that the issue of social media, which the ministry has addressed, is not [accurately] reflected in the report. I urge each department and working group to examine the matter and make necessary corrections to the figures and the challenges faced,” she said, urging officials to establish goals and indicators to combat crime in the current year.

She credited the decline in crime to effective collaboration between the responsible entities and relevant authorities in law enforcement.

She mentioned that the ministry is formulating a strategic plan for 2024-2028 to conserve, promote and develop the national culture, in alignment with the initial phase of the government’s Pentagonal Strategy.

According to a draft of the plan, the ministry intends to undertake approximately 800 actions. 

Of these, 662 will be carried out using the national budget, 58 in collaboration with partners and the remaining 80 will require additional funding for implementation.