Embassy Hotline Created to Assist Foreign Nationals in Need

A hotline is being created to provide foreigners with greater access to police officers in times of need, as well as strengthen relations between Cambodian authorities and embassy officials, police said on Wednesday.

Cambodian National Police officials have been instructed to establish the hotline within its Phnom Penh headquarters and assign officers to take calls from embassy officials reporting crimes and other incidents involving their citizens, police chief Neth Savoeun announced on Wednesday during a meeting with Japanese Ambassador Hidehisa Horinouchi.

Officers attend a ceremony marking the 71st anniversary of the national police force in Phnom Penh last year. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Contacted after the meeting, Mr. Savoeun said the initiative would provide embassy staff with round-the-clock access to authorities and ensure a quicker response time from officials investigating crimes targeting foreign travelers and expatriates.

The center will contribute to “better relationships between our National Police force and all embassies, to provide protection for foreigners,” he said by telephone.

“The creation of the hotline center will help the embassies provide information to our officials relating to security matters for their citizens, and we will then intervene to rescue them in time.”

Ho Vandy, the secretary-general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, welcomed the government’s efforts to address an issue on which formal action was long overdue.

“This is not a new issue, but an old issue that has been raised in our meetings in the past for many years,” he said.

Mr. Vandy said the best means of contacting local authorities was also poorly advertised, making it difficult for foreigners who were seeking help.

“We wish to see banners or any announcements from the television,” he said.

During Wednesday’s meeting with the Japanese ambassador, Mr. Savoeun also requested additional training and technical materials for Cambodia’s police officials.

“I have received the requests made by Mr. Savoeun and will submit the proposals with my government for a decision,” Mr. Horinouchi said in a statement posted to the National Police website.

The ambassador also reported an increase in the number of Japanese tourists, investors and delegates traveling to Cambodia since September, following the launch of direct flights connecting passengers from Tokyo’s Narita International Airport and Phnom Penh International Airport.

The Tourism Ministry reported nearly 170,000 tourists from Japan between January and November, the last month for which statistics are available, about the same number as the previous period.

(Additional reporting by Sonia Kohlbacher)

Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified Ho Vandy as the co-chair of the government-private sector working group on tourism, a position that he left last year. He is the secretary-general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance.

 

pheap@cambodiadaily.com

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