Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government had decided to enhance the effectiveness of the safe village-commune policy to respond to recent events because peace, political stability, security and public order are the factors crucial to maintaining a favourable economy and society.
The decision comes 10 years after the safe village-commune policy was first introduced by the Ministry of Interior. The policy had gained wide support, especially among administrations at sub-national levels, with many agreeing that it had been implemented successfully.
According to Hun Sen, the government has continually revised the guidelines for implementation of the policy to keep up with the nation’s development context over the years.
The prime minster wrote in a letter on January 29 that although the nation was at peace, public security, order and the public’s wellbeing, as well as provision of essential services, all remained priorities areas to address.
He said the priority is to focus on ensuring that the whole society enjoys better security, prosperous livelihoods and harmonious interactions.
“In order to respond to the current situation and mobilise enough participants to support more [people], the government has decided to enhance the effectiveness of the safe village-commune policy as well as elevate the level this policy is overseen,” the letter read.
“Peace, political stability, security and public order are the key factors providing favourable conditions for the development of the economy, social cohesion and other kinds of growth,” he wrote.
Hun Sen added that the government was elevating the policy with the purpose of continuing to build and strengthen security and social order.
He noted that the policy focuses on sanitation, the environment, people’s wellbeing and reducing the dangers caused by disasters and contagious diseases under all circumstances.
According to the prime minister, it also encourages dispute settlement in localities outside of the courts and social work that can increase the speed at which Cambodia alleviates poverty.
He said the government must introduce measures that would galvanise cooperation between the public and private sector.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director for rights group Licadho, said the safe village-commune policy is good, but the practical implementation of the policy by some officials had not yet been fully accomplished.
“Some people are still causing problems such as the current situation with drug use spreading to the countryside. Also, gambling and thefts continue to happen. So, In order for the safe village-commune policy to be effective, local officials have to participate fully in its implementation and that will gain the participation and trust of people,” he said.
The tenets of the safe village-commune policy are, first, provide high quality and transparent administrative services to the public; second, prevent or eliminate the commission of all criminal offences, be it theft, pick-pocketing, drugs, illegal gambling of all kinds; third, maintain good public order and work to prevent traffic accidents; fourth, eliminate all crimes of human trafficking, especially against women and children in addition to ending domestic violence and apprehending all gangsters.
Fifth, solutions arrived at in localities and outside of the courts are more effective and to be preferred as a first option; sixth, improve sanitation and beautify the environment, and seventh, respond in a timely fashion and effective manner to disasters including brutally contagious diseases.