Complaint Boxes Underutilized, Police Complain

More than four months after Phnom Penh police installed boxes across the city to solicit complaints and feedback about the behavior of law enforcement officers, municipal police chief Touch Naruth has a grievance of his own: Not enough people are complaining.

So far only a trickle of messages has come in to the 76 complaint boxes across the capital, about six a week, he said. The signs on the boxes don’t specifically mention complaints concerning police misconduct, but rather ask the public for information about the police.

“I don’t know if people are afraid to write complaints or they don’t have information to tell police,” the police chief said, adding, “People’s participation has been minimal.”

He said he didn’t think the lack of complaints was due to local officers tampering with the boxes and removing critical messages.

“I don’t allow district chiefs or commune police chiefs to open the boxes, because they may select only good letters and then report to me,” he said.

Chhim An, a 37-year-old motorbike taxi driver, who often parks near one complaint box at the Roy­al University of Fine Arts, said he did not know the box’s purpose until a reporter told him Tuesday.

With his newfound knowledge, he said, he will complain that police often issue traffic fines but do not issue written citations.


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