Minister of Interior Sar Sokha has urged the provincial governors of border provinces and joint forces to tighten management and control over border crossings. This directive comes in the wake of reported irregularities linked to negligence in the performance of their duties.

Sokha highlighted ongoing challenges such as the illegal operation of corridors in some boundary provinces and unofficial fees being levied on workers and residents, in a letter dated October 3.

“These activities have a detrimental effect on security, safety and public order along the border,” Sokha stated.

He emphasised the importance of close monitoring and proper administration.

“All illegal corridors must be closed. When necessary, conduct a thorough assessment of the economic and social implications of existing corridors. Subsequently, proposals for the establishment of official entry-exit points can be made to the ministry,” he said.

Sokha underscored the need to bolster control over passengers, goods and entry-exit points to thwart all forms of cross-border crime. He specifically mentioned the importance of maintaining security, safety and public order.

“The provincial governors must ensure that authorities desist from permitting irregular transit and charging unofficial fees, which breach the agreement and laws between Cambodia and its neighbours,” Sokha added.

He also called for equitable public services and documentation processes for all individuals, coupled with efficient management of persons passing over the border and timely resolution of arising challenges.

Strict legal measures against brokers facilitating illegal crossings were advised, alongside public education campaigns to curtail human trafficking, labour exploitation and other illegal immigration offences.

Sokha cautioned that the ministry would initiate legal action against any checkpoint found to be lapsing in its duties.

Dy Rado, deputy governor of Oddar Meanchey province, confirmed receipt of the directive, adding that provincial governor Pen Kosal has taken these matters seriously.

“In Oddar Meanchey, we haven’t faced significant challenges as we do not have corridors, only official international and bilateral crossing points with Thailand. Nonetheless, we are committed to adhering to the ministry’s directives and the government’s guidelines,” Rado said.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, commended the ministry’s stance as well as the government’s efforts to eradicate border corruption. He further expressed hope that authorities would support workers legally employed in Thailand and also ensure seamless trade processes.

“It’s vital to effectively counter corruption at all crossing points,” Ath stated.