Concerns Arise Over Police Demobilization

The Ministry of Interior has begun downsizing the country’s bloated police force, but with no real demobilization plan in place, the futures of perhaps thousands of officers remains uncertain.

Ministry officials are unclear if they will follow the same compensation package offered to RCAF soldiers mustered out of service—approximately $250 and some household tools.

Phnom Penh municipal police say they have already cut 40 to 70 officers from each district since receiving a directive Aug 24 from Co-Ministers of Interior Sar Kheng and You Hockry. The order targeted “ghost” officers who do not come to work but are still paid, or who bought their job from a police officer who wanted to leave the force.

You Hockry said there will be no compensation for no-show officers or those who are not legally on the payroll. He said the government is still trying to decide if it will compensate legally-hired officers who are demobilized.

The ministry in 1998 an­nounced it would cut 24,000 of the country’s 60,000 policemen by 2003. About 7,000 have al­ready been dropped from the rolls, according to ministry officials.

Ning Sophy, a Tuol Kok district policeman who was cut last week, admits he paid $300 in 1996 to replace a friend on the payroll. But he insists he should receive some severance pay.

“I’m fed up with the way they treat me,” he said. “During the July 5 and 6 [1997] fighting, I suffered a head injury, and I paid $1,000 for treatment. Now they cut me and give me nothing.”

Ning Sophy said he has asked the Tuol Kok inspector, Kim Huon, for the same compensation as demobilized soldiers will receive, and that the inspector said he will send a proposal to his superior officers.

Kim Huon confirmed he cut 48 Tuol Kok policemen last week, including several who bought their way onto the force. “They could not claim that the original photo [in their file] was theirs, and the background information in the file was completely wrong,” Kim Huon said.

You Hockry noted the money for demobilization of the military is part of a reform program funded by the Asian Development Bank and other international agencies rather than the government.

Nay Sok Sampha, a six-year police veteran who did not buy his way onto the force, is concerned that he may receive no compensation if he is demobilized.

“The recent cuts discourage those who have not yet been demobilized,” he said. “The government has to compensate us if we’re cut. We’ve worked for it, and the government has to think about our efforts.”




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