Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has called on police to tighten the noose on both the unauthorised use of official police licence plates among their own ranks, and on the use of fake police plates by the public at large.
It is illegal to use official police plates on personal vehicles, as it is to use the fake plates, which are widely available for less than $10, and often used in the commission of crimes by perpetrators hoping to avoid scrutiny.
“There is a small amount of police officials who have been using vehicles carrying police number plates in violation of the traffic law and other laws, and [have been] allowing non-police to use the numbers or using vehicles with police number plates to serve private interests, which affects the dignity, honour, and prestige of the National Police,” Kheng wrote in a September 25 letter, which was obtained yesterday.
Kheng went on to acknowledge the use of fake plates by criminals, and also reminded officials that police plates were no excuse for not paying taxes on their vehicles. The letter called for street-side checkpoints, as well as checks at police stations themselves.
“[The police] must detain vehicles, and the owners or drivers of any vehicle, carrying police number plates without the proper license or fake licence [places],” the letter adds.
Both crimes have been part of Cambodia’s Criminal Code since at least 2011, and are punishable by jail time and fines.
However, Run Rath Veasna, director of the public order department at the Ministry of Interior, said yesterday that police were not yet enacting Kheng’s five-day-old instructions because time was needed to disseminate them.
“We haven’t taken measures to monitor the streets yet; we’re giving a deadline of 90 days to publicly announce the instruction,” Veasna said.
Ny Chakrya, head of the human rights section of the NGO Adhoc, said that while he was not investigating the use of fake plates himself, their use in criminal activity was commonplace, and that the improper use of official plates to evade taxes and smuggle illicit goods was often “connected to the powerful and the rich”.