Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - House searches after New Year

House searches after New Year

House searches after New Year

gun.jpg
gun.jpg

Police check a passing motorist for illegal weapons.

Photo by Heng Sinith

More than 1,000 weapons have been confiscated or surrendered to the authorities in

Phnom Penh during the first four days of the firearms crackdown, according to the

head of the Weapons Confiscation Committee and First Deputy Governor of Phnom Penh

Chea Sophara.

He said that for the time immediately before and after Khmer New Year they would

maintain an education program to encourage voluntary surrender of firearms and other

weapons.

But after that, police will target houses they know have weapons in them.

He said that for the past 10 years police had been informally keeping track of who

had guns by noting who fired shots during rain, and at festivals like New Year. This

information is additional to the formal register of firearms.

Since April 6, three confiscation teams have been working in Phnom Penh to seize

weapons carried in public.

The first team has been setting up checkpoints on roads, the second has been mobile

within the city and the third has concentrated on the six exits from Phnom Penh.

The process got off to a slow start with the first day of operations, April 8, yeilding

three AK- 47s, five pistols and two grenades by confiscation, plus 23 weapons by

voluntary surrender.

Since then, more guns have been taken out of circulation.

Pok Not, Deputy Chief of the Municipal Police's Public Order Bureau said they were

serious about implementing the ban.

He said any person seen carrying a rifle in public will have it seized even if they

have a license.

He said people caught with hand guns will have them seized if they don't have a license.

He added that even if they do have a license but have no reason to be carrying a

hand gun, such as being a bodyguard on duty, they will be arrested and sent to court

and the guns seized.

There will be no exceptions to the rule even for powerful or wealthy people, he warned.

"If we really want to seize all the weapons we must be daring and do it even

to those people who are the top officials," he said.

"If we are afraid to do it the process will get stuck."

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