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Germany proposes policing advice

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Interior minister Sar Kheng (right) meets German ambassador to Cambodia Christian Berger on February 3. Sar Kheng via Facebook

Germany proposes policing advice

German ambassador to Cambodia Christian Berger has suggested a project to Minister of Interior Sar Kheng which he believes will improve relations between commune police and the communities they serve.

Sar Kheng said the idea had merit and was in accord with the safe village-commune policy.

Berger raised the idea while meeting with Sar Kheng on February 3 to discuss decentralisation and deconcentration in Cambodia as a follow-up to the minister’s 2019 tour in Germany to observe German practices in these areas.

Berger told Sar Kheng that Germany was willing to support Cambodia in enacting a commune police-community relations project, according to a statement by the ministry.

He said the project would strengthen the commune police’s ability to perform their duties and improve the communication dynamic between police and citizens as well as encourage civic participation.

In response, Sar Kheng welcomed the suggestion and confirmed that the idea was in line with the government’s goals in this area and that it was complimentary to the newly approved safe village-commune policy, which was recently revised to adapt to current circumstances.

Sar Kheng said he will go on a tour of the provinces with Berger to show him the positive results of the reforms enacted by the decentralisation and deconcentration programme which was supported in part by Germany.

He said their tour would also be used to move the commune police-community relations project forward and to this end they will visit regional police training centres to observe training firsthand and consider ways to incorporate the project into those activities.

National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said on February 4 that a similar project was operating from 2017 to 2019 supported by the Australian government and that it made the relationship between local police and the community closer and it was one of the foundations for implementing the safe village-commune policy.

“According to surveys, there is an increased trust by the public for the police and an increased willingness to cooperate. The majority of the people expressed that they felt positive about security in the village and commune in which they were living.

“The National Police are putting an effort in to strengthen the capacity and quality of our commune police administrations,” Kim Koeun said.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun welcomed the German embassy’s initiative as there was still a great deal of division between the police and the community.

He said this was because in daily interactions between the police and the public, too often the police do not behave like public servants.

“Cambodians are afraid of police who wear uniforms and carry guns rather than respecting them or the law. This leads to a situation where people behave well in the presence of the police, but once the police are gone they go right back to breaking laws,” he said.

Chanroeun said police have numerous shortcomings in their capacities and in their own respect for the rule of law.

He said their adherence to their professional code of conduct was poor and so was their overall provision of services to the public.

“I hope that the project initiated by the German embassy will promote effective policing and better job performance – that in turn would take the police’s relationship with the people to another level,” he said.

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