Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday took aim at the police chiefs of Battambang, Kandal and Pursat provinces, warning that they should be prepared to lose their titles if they fail to crack down on a recent crime wave.
Kheng said the three police chiefs needed to act urgently to halt the spate of armed robberies that has plagued their provinces in recent weeks. In particular, he said, the police chiefs needed to better prevent the use of weapons and explosives.
“I consider them [the recent crimes] as a test for the Battambang, Kandal and Pursat provincial police chiefs to work on,” he said, adding that if they are unable to stop the crimes, they will lose their positions.
“Armed robbery is a serious challenge, so please pay more serious attention.”
Kheng said that police chiefs of other provinces should be “cautious and proactive” with efforts to prevent similar crimes from happening.
Meanwhile, Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana called for a meeting on Friday with prosecutors to review the decision-making process used in pardon determinations for convicted robbers.
The announcement came in response to a request from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who said on Monday that a number of the armed robbers behind the recent crime wave have previous criminal histories.
“Armed robbers and drug distributors should not be freed so often,” the premier said. “According to the report of the military police and the police, the robbers are [former] prisoners who had been freed recently.”
Battambang provincial police chief Sar Thet yesterday said he had upped efforts to crack down on armed robberies, and had made two arrests in recent days.
“We will put more effort into searching for the boss of those armed robbers to improve security in the province,” he said.
The Kandal and Pursat police chiefs could not be reached.
San Chey, of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, said that rather than just warning the three police chiefs, the government should focus on finding “resources and money to spend on police operations”.
Chey said there needs to be “a reliable system that allows people to contact police in time to help them if an incident happens”.