Police officers are members of the public service.
Their job is to ensure order by following clear guidelines within the law.
They are not above the law and, like general citizens, should be held accountable when they do the wrong thing.
On Friday four members of the city’s riot police surrounded Sovan Philong, a senior photographer with The Phnom Penh Post, who was taking pictures of home demolitions and evictions of residents from Boeung Kak lake.
The officers manhandled Sovan Philong, grabbed his shirt from the front and back as they shoved him, and illegally confiscated his camera equipment.
Sovan Philong was wearing his government-issued media-identification pass and was covering a breaking news story.
His equipment was returned to him about 90 minutes later.
A riot police officer was later on Friday questioned by another senior representative of The Phnom Penh Post who requested to see the person in charge to register a formal complaint.
The officer said: “My commanding officer has no name and no phone number.”
Cambodia has a reputation as being the beacon of free press in Southeast Asia.
This arrogant and heavy-handed behaviour does not mirror a society with a free press.
About 4,000 people will eventually be evicted from the lakeside to make way for a development by Shukaku Inc, a company owned by Lao Meng Khin who is a senator with the ruling party of Cambodia.
Shukaku employs security guards who have on occasions verbally abused and generally threatened staff members of The Phnom Penh Post.
The stand-over tactic has badly backfired and has made this newspaper even more committed to cover each event as it unfolds during the eviction and demolition process.
We will not be intimidated nor silenced.
The Phnom Penh Post is demanding a full inquiry into the assault and camera confiscation suffered by Sovan Philong.
This inquiry should be state-level and independent of the police.
Phnom Penh obviously needs riot police.
It does not need a division of the Keystone Kops.
It does not need ruffians dressed in police uniforms.