Approval to Arm Fisheries Officials Unlikely

A Cambodian environmental NGO has urged Prime Minister Hun Sen to arm government officials working in remote and potentially hostile areas. The request follows an attack earlier this month on fisheries officials that left three dead and three others injured.

“Please provide weapons to officials on their mission to crack down on anarchic people,” read a statement from the Organization for the Conservation and Rehab­ilitation of Endangered Flora and Fauna of Cambodia.

But Interior Ministry Director General of Administration Prach Chan said Sunday the appeal for wea­pons will likely be rejected for fear that it could lead to more violence.

Prach Chan also said arming gov­ernment officials would be con­trary to a general effort to de­mobilize Cambodian military and police. He said officials should ask police for help when trying to crack down on illegal operations.

Agriculture Minister Chhea Song has said the same, cautioning fisheries officials to be more careful while cracking down on illegal fishing practices. Chhea Song’s warning came several days after three officials were killed during a brawl with fishermen on the Tonle Sap River on April 10.

The fisheries officials were trying to confiscate three boats belonging to fishermen who they claim were allegedly using illegal fishing nets when they were attacked by a larger group of men from a nearby fishing village. But those living in the fishing village where the attackers came from instead say the officials were only taking the boats to exact bribes from the fishermen.


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