In a move to stop mob killings in Phnom Penh, Governor Chea Sophara has ordered municipal authorities to take greater responsibility for arrested criminals.
In the directive issued Feb 8 and sent to the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Interior, Phnom Penh’s seven district chiefs and the city’s police and military police forces, Chea Sophara states that criminals must be dealt with by the courts and not by mobs of angry citizens.
“City hall strongly requests citizens to leave [criminal] cases to court bodies which will take legal action against offenders,” said Chea Sophara. The directive orders the city’s district chiefs and commune leaders to take action immediately.
Municipal Police Chief Suon Chheangly said Monday no extrajudicial killings have taken place this month but six offenders were beaten to death by mobs in December and January.
“I have received the directive….We will punish the [authorities] that helped cause or lead the violence,” said Suon Chheangly.
Chea Sophara said the spate of mob killings highlights the need for authorities to take greater responsibility. “If [police] arrest they must not let the people beat them until they kill them. They must protect them and send them to the court….This has happened too many times already.”
Kek Galabru, director of local human rights group Licadho, welcomed the directive Monday but noted that its effectiveness in stopping mob killings still remains to be seen.
“It is a good sign…but now we have to see if [municipal authorities] obey his order and if [Chea Sophara] can take disciplinary action if some do not follow his orders,” said Kek Galabru.
Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said Cambodians must learn that the courts can deal fairly and honestly with people who have committed crimes.
(Additional reporting by Ham Samnang)