Thirty-four Koh Kong provincial environmental rangers took the oath to become judicial police officers last week.
In front of presiding prosecutor and attorneys, the 34 rangers swore on Thursday in the provincial court to protect natural resources and carry out crackdowns on forestry crimes in their jurisdictions.
Neth Pheaktra, the Ministry of Environment secretary of state and spokesman, said in order to become judicial officers, a ranger must take the oath before the court after receiving training in patrolling strategy and learning how to use weapons.
“Rangers who are also judicial officers could arrest and impose legal consequences against environmental offenders within their jurisdictions,” Pheaktra told The Post on Monday, referring to the protected natural areas within Koh Kong province.
He said the ministry employed about 1,220 environmental rangers who “actively worked to protect natural resources and guarded 7.5 million hectares of land under the management of the Ministry of Environment”.
Koh Kong provincial environment department director Man Phalla said the province now has 113 rangers cum judicial officers, including the 34 who were recently sworn in.
“Taking the oath is the [final phase] to appoint an environmental ranger to a judicial post, as part of efforts to protect natural resources and execute crackdowns on crimes in their respective areas,” he said.
Phalla believed that no ranger in his province had ever committed any crime or been involved in any activity that violates their mandate.
Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community director Theng Savoeun told The Post on Monday that in most land dispute cases in Koh Kong province, the rangers follow their duties accordingly when dealing with ordinary villagers.
However, when dealing with large companies or a powerful tycoon, Savoeun stressed, the rangers could see their authority undermined.
On the swearing-in of judicial officers, he hoped that they would fulfil their duties and dare to enforce the laws on offenders without fear or favour, and not back down when faced with a group of well-connected and powerful people.