Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - False kidnapping hysteria ‘not helping anything’, police say



False kidnapping hysteria ‘not helping anything’, police say

Villagers drag a man wrongly accused of kidnapping after he was beaten by an angry mob on Saturday in Preah Sihanouk province. Photo supplied
Villagers drag a man wrongly accused of kidnapping after he was beaten by an angry mob on Saturday in Preah Sihanouk province. Photo supplied

False kidnapping hysteria ‘not helping anything’, police say

Police officials have warned parents and villagers not to contribute to social media hysteria over false accounts of kidnappings of children for organ harvesting in the wake of two vicious mob beatings over the weekend.

The police directive comes after two separate assaults, in Preah Sihanouk and Kampong Thom provinces, where the victims were falsely accused of kidnapping children and removing their kidneys.

Phuong Puthidara, the 24-hour information official at the National Police, urged parents to continue reporting genuine cases of missing children, but said the many claims posted to Facebook were exaggerated or false. “The kidnapping case for kidney extraction . . . we have not received any information about that yet,” he said.

“Through Facebook, they said that the child was brought here and there, but it has not happened yet. Please, do not believe in Facebook so much.”

Two men are beaten up by an angry crowd over an alleged kidnapping. Photo supplied
Two men are beaten up by an angry crowd over an alleged kidnapping. Photo supplied

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Police Chief Chuon Narin yesterday debunked rumours – circulated on the Facebook page of “Pov Virakbot” – that the victim in the beating there had kidnapped any children or extracted their internal organs.

“I reject this completely and confirm the truth for the public in order to stop the confusion,” he said. “I ordered the experts and local authorities to investigate and discovered that the man who was tied up and abused . . . he is a rubbish sweeper at Veal Rinh Market and he is a drunkard, not a child kidnapper.”

Also on Saturday, in Kampong Thom, two men from Prey Veng province were severely beaten and dragged into a pond on similar accusations, according to Provincial Police Chief Ouk Kosal. Kosal said the pair were not kidnappers but were being questioned by police.

He added a man, identified as “Nay Sineng” on Facebook, had broadcast false information that the two men were Vietnamese child kidnappers and organ traffickers.

Sineng was detained and questioned, but released after issuing an apology, Kosal said.

James McCabe, of the Child Protection Unit, said “there hasn’t been a spike in kidnappings”. “If they have a concern and if a child is missing, of course they should report it to police, but this hysteria around social media is not helping anything.”

The National Police’s Puthidara said that between July 13 and 30, a total of 32 complaints had been made alleging child kidnappings. Of those, two were genuine cases. Four children of those 32 were still missing, while 16 had been found. Ten complaints had only recently been filed.

For people who suspected a child had been kidnapped, Puthidara urged them to contact police on two hotlines: 031 201 2345 or 031 601 2345.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting