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Police urged to stop covering up crimes

National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith (centre) talks at a press conference in Phnom Penh last year. A recent video sees Chantharith asking police to report crime accurately and to avoid hiding problems.
National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith (centre) talks at a press conference in Phnom Penh last year. A recent video sees Chantharith asking police to report crime accurately and to avoid hiding problems. Pha Lina

Police urged to stop covering up crimes

Cambodia's National Police spokesman, speaking in a recent video, has urged police to stop hiding crimes from the public, lest they encounter unspecified “problems”.

In the undated video, which surfaced on Facebook on Saturday, national police spokesman Kirth Chantharith can be seen speaking at a podium pleading police officials “not to hide” crime.

“If you hide crime, it means you let it happen, and if a national police deputy finds out, then you will have many problems and we will talk about this,” he said.

“Do not hide the situation, and this is the most important thing … I plead for commune and district police to not hide the reality.”

Chantharith told police to stop downplaying crimes and painting a rosy picture when they report to higher officials, and also condemned police shooting suspects in the back then filing such incidents as “unintentional”.

The video comes at a time of rising concerns about violent crime, with the Ministry of Interior last Wednesday promising to crack down following a rash of armed robberies earlier this month.

However, the Post was unable to date the video, and Chantharith did not respond to numerous requests for comment, while other senior national police officials could not be reached.

Local police officials denied yesterday that authorities were hiding or underreporting crimes.

Ly Thim, police chief of Kraing Leav commune in Rolea Ba’ier district, Kampong Chhnang province, said “we do not make false reports to the leaders”.

“We have a lack of resources and people are slow to inform police about crime.”

Mao Sarun, police chief of Mesa Thngak commune in Svay Rieng’s Chantrea district, also said resources were scarce, with only two or three officers per commune.

Am Sam Ath, senior investigator with rights group Licadho, said the government was not tackling crime hard enough due to corrupt police releasing suspects and the lack of rule of law.

“The government needs to end this impunity.”

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said that as far as he knew crime was down in the Kingdom, while only a “small minority” of police underreported crimes.

“We have good cops or bad cops, just like in the US.”

Additional reporting by Charles Rollet

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