Minister of Interior Sar Sokha has advised all police forces across the country to pay close attention to the correct use of police licence plates.

The remarks came as he chaired a February 28 meeting to review the ministry’s 2023 work and set its working direction for 2024.

Sokha said he has received reports of police-issued licence plates being misused in several provinces.

“I am instructing all ministry officials, especially police officers, that this must come to an end. According to the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Police chief, some officers with police-issued number plates are working at casinos. I have also heard reports that cars with police licence plates have been seen parked in front of KTVs,” he said, stressing that police vehicles must not be loaned to others.

The minister instructed the National Police and capital-provincial police chiefs to pay close attention to the issue. If any officer was discovered to be using police plates inappropriately, they should be cancelled, and the vehicles subject to the same taxes as civilian ones.

Sokha noted that in 2023, the police successfully implemented the safe village-commune policy, cracking down on criminal offences and illegal drugs. They also strengthened and improved public safety.

He recalled that 2023 was the first full calendar year that the Kingdom was fully open, following the restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That year, he added, Cambodia held the national election, the 32nd SEA Games and the 12th ASEAN Para Games. 

He underscored that despite the influence of global insecurities, last year the National Police had worked with their partners to maintain peace, independence, national sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as political stability and public order.

“We implemented the safe village-commune policy, and investigated several crimes, including human and drug trafficking, as well as sexual exploitation in all its forms. We also suppressed gang activity, stepped up the enforcement of traffic laws and saved numerous property and potential victims from fires,” he said.

Sokha highlighted the important work of issuing National ID cards, noting that the efficiency of the provision of administrative services appeared to be slowly improving. The government has set the goal of “one person, one ID card”, as all Cambodians need to hold the card to access public services.

He added that police officers must continue to implement stringent immigration measures and monitor foreigners, in order to guarantee national sovereignty, counter terrorism and eliminate illegal immigration. This work is necessary to support the national tourism policy, investment, trade and the labour sector.

Am Sam Ath, operations director at rights group LICADHO, acknowledged the government’s effort to push forward security reforms, but noted that the authorities’ implementation of the safe village-commune policy has yet to meet all of the needs of the public.

“The problems of drugs and gambling remain a concern, so I believe the new government should strengthen mechanisms to curb these problems,” he said.

The ministry reported that in 2023, police made arrests in over 3,000 criminal cases of 3,500 reported crimes, arresting over 5,000 suspects across the country. This represented a 27 per cent increase over 2022, with an additional 700 cases.