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New sub-decree will rein in trigger-happy bodyguards: police

New sub-decree will rein in trigger-happy bodyguards: police

The Council of Ministers has passed a new order on firearms and explosives that could help limit personal use of weapons

NOT FOR THE THAIS

While the draft sub-decree encompasses evacuations in cases of general life-threatening situations that could arise, it does not encompass evacuations during border confrontations with Thai soldiers, said the Defense Ministry's Nem Sowath.

The Council of Ministers Friday adopted a new sub-decree on weapons use that police say is a response to the rising number of shootings, particularly in Phnom Penh.

Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said the order clearly differentiates between official use of firearms by security personnel and the unsanctioned carrying of weapons.

Bodyguards, operating in a large gray area between professional and private capacities, have been especially problematic.

"The subdecree will ensure that [bodyguards] will be able to use their guns only on missions and not at beer gardens," Touch Naruth said. 

"At night gunfire is out of control and it makes a headache for the police," Touch Naruth told the Post Monday. "It is necessary to have this sub-decree because previously we could not control the illegal use of weapons.  

"Once the police begin enforcing this sub-decree, we expect to see an 80-percent reduction in illegal gun fire and gun fights at night in Phnom Penh," he added.

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Son Chhay said many weapons kept by government officials and members of the military were not properly registered.

"Now the sub-decree may force them to register their guns, and it will help police to investigate and apprehend perpetrators when shootings occur," he said.

"The important thing now is the capacity of the police and their willingness to crack down on illegal gun use," Son Chhay said, adding that he did not think the order in itself would help to improve the current situation.

Speedy evacuation

The Council of Ministers on Friday also approved a draft sub-decree outlining procedures to evacuate the public from life threatening situations.

At night gunfire is out of control and it makes a headache for the police.

Written by the ministries of Interior and Defence, the sub-decree governs all evacuations from both public and private spaces across Cambodia. Details, however, were not available.

"This sub-decree will help us to evacuate people from dangerous places in cases of war, use of explosives or firearms. It is to prevent danger and protect people's lives," Ros Chhorm, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of Defence, told the Post.

"Before we would just use force to help take people away from dangerous places," Ros Chhorm said.

"From now on we will have this sub-decree to implement [evacuation orders] with relevant ministry and local authorities," he added.

The  subdecree does not apply to natural disasters, he said.

Nem Sowath, chief of cabinet at the Defence Ministry, said Sunday that the sub-decree will help the authorities better coordinate their response to dangerous situations or eruptions of violence.

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