Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Police chief admits 2-3% of police take bribes from criminal suspects

Police chief admits 2-3% of police take bribes from criminal suspects

Police chief admits 2-3% of police take bribes from criminal suspects

Once again, the city police flunk the corruption test. Two weeks ago it was the traffic

police. This time it's the police who are supposed to be carrying out the arrest

warrants for robbery.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court confirmed last week for the Post that more than 1,000

arrest warrants issued by the court dating back to 2004 have not been carried out

by the police, amid allegations that police routinely solicit bribes from suspected

criminals' families to evade arrest.

"The court had the role to issue warrants and the police are the enforcer in

arresting suspects," said Municipal Court Chief Chev Keng. "So far more

than 1,000 cases remain in the hands of police."

Keng made his comments following a report by local newspaper Kampuchea Thmey which

quoted a court official as saying the rising number of armed robberies in Phnom Penh

and on the outskirts of the city are a result of the failed arrest warrants.

"Some arrest warrants police carried out properly," the unnamed official

said. "But some others they did not, in exchange for monthly bribery."

The court official said many of the cases are criminal cases of robbery, or other

types of theft such as pickpockets.

Asked by the Post about the allegations, Phnom Penh police commissioner Touch Naroth

said it was true that some police are guilty.

"I recognized that only 2 or 3 percent of them did that, but with minor crimes,

not serious crimes," he said.

Naruth also said the police cannot get all the suspects because they move from place

to place to escape arrest.

"We are working hard to keep social security," Naroth said. "If we

do not arrest the perpetrators, the problem will come back to the police, not to

the court."

He said compared with last year, crime is down 30% in Phnom Penh.

Meanwhile at Phnom Penh municipal hall, Governor Kep Chuktema said authorities are

ashamed they cannot crack down on repeated robberies of the so called AK-47 Group,

which threatens people in the suburbs. Many of the AK-47 robberies occurred in Dangkor

district of Phnom Penh, in Kandal Stung and Ang Snuol district of Kandal and recently

spread to Kampong Speu province but police never arrest and bring them to jail.

"The case of AK-47 rifle robbery is a new issue for police but sooner or later

they will be arrested," said police chief Naruth.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of Cambodian Defenders' Project, said the court

should investigate irregularities in the work of police after arrest warrants are

issued to make sure police are enforcing them, but in reality the courts are sometimes

to blame.

"When irregularities happen involving a perpetrator neither the court nor police

dare to take responsibility." Sam Oeun said sometimes courts issue warrants

without waiting for a police request, which is contrary to procedure.

In 2005, the Ministry of Interior found nearly 200 court cases within Phnom Penh

municipal court that had irregularities regarding the release of suspects.

Prime Minister Hun Sen's "iron fist" campaign to reform the court system

was initiated due to these kind of problems. As part of that, eight Phnom Penh municipal

court judges and prosecutors were expelled, suspended and rotated. However a year

later they were re-appointed to work in different courtrooms by the Supreme Council

of Magistracy, chaired by King Norodom Sihamoni.

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