DAUN Penh district authorities picked up 23 adult "vagrants" and five children on Wednesday in an effort that the district's deputy governor said was designed to make popular tourist areas such as Wat Phnom and the Royal Palace safer and more beautiful.
"They are vagrants who sleep anywhere," said Daun Penh Deputy Governor Sok Penhvuth. "They can cause damage to our national reputation because ... it affects our city's security."
He said district authorities sent the detained "vagrants" to the municipal social affairs department to encourage them to learn job skills.
"Just because we collect them does not mean we're ... violating human rights. We want them to become good people and have suitable jobs," he said.
Sorn Sophal, director of the social affairs department, said authorities had sent 150 people to the department in 2009, adding that he believed the city's efforts had successfully reduced the number of people living on the street.
"I think the number of vagrants has decreased because we don't see them in some places, like in front of Wat Botum," he said.
But Sok Penhvuth said he was growing frustrated because arrested "vagrants" had repeatedly returned to the capital's streets.
"They give me headaches every day.... They tell us and the social affairs officers that they've decided to return home, but a few days later, they come back again," he said.