Crime Level ‘Critical’ in Cambodia: US

A spike in violent crime over the past year has seen Cambodia receive a “critical” rating in a report outlining the potential dangers for U.S. Embassy staff operating in the country.

The Cambodia 2015 Crime and Safety Report, which was compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Diplomatic Security and released Wednesday, cited armed robberies, youth gangs and break-ins as some of the dangers facing U.S. diplomats.

“Violent crimes, especially armed robberies, continued to occur, while the chances of being a victim increase dramatically at night, daytime robberies are also very common. The frequency of armed robberies involving weapons continues at high levels,” the report says.

It stated that “random gunfire incidents” and road-rage-induced shoot-outs occurred frequently, while youth gangs “operate unimpeded” in Phnom Penh.

Embassy officials reported a rise in “snatch and grab” thefts, particularly when the victims are riding in tuk-tuks or on motorbikes.

“[A] foreign diplomat had his smart phone stolen after being punched in the mouth. The perpetrator used brass knuckles and approached the victim as he was stopped on the side of the road,” the report says. It also mentioned the murder of Dutch U.N. consultant Daphna Beerdsen and her daughter in Phnom Penh last April.

U.S. officials were also told that they should avoid “dimly lit areas,” “socialize at reputable restaurants and bars” and avoid food that might contain illicit drugs.

“Embassy employees are prohibited from ordering food items from local restaurants that contain marijuana or other illicit ingredients, which are usually marketed under the term ‘happy,’” the report says.

Last year’s crime and safety report had a similar tone but contained no rating.

U.S. Embassy officials earn an annual 25 percent “hardship” compensation for working in Cambodia, according to the U.S. State Department. U.S. diplomats in the world’s cities deemed most dangerous earn an extra 35 percent.

Contacted Thursday, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy declined to comment on the report. Cambodian Interior Ministry officials could not be reached.

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