Police Chief: Reinstate Gendarmerie’s Power

Military Police Commander Sao Sokha on Monday urged the government to return to military police officials their full powers and outlined security measures the gendarmerie will take for the Khmer New Year as well as the upcoming national elections.

Speaking in Banteay Meanch­ey province, where military police commanders from all provinces and municipalities are meeting for their three-month review, Sao Sokha said the government should return all previous authority to the gendarmerie.

“We would like the lawmakers to discuss the further role of the gendarmerie because it is a necessity for the gendarme to stay,” Sao Sokha said. “If we have more authority—police authority—we can ensure justice better because the more we do, the more people will rely on us.”

The National Assembly passed an amendment to the criminal law in November 2001 prohibiting military police officials from arresting civilians in an effort to streamline the country’s police forces and end conflicts between the police and the gendarmerie.

The amendment, however, allows the gendarmerie to arrest civilians if the military police are given orders from a higher auth­ority, such as from the provincial governor.

Sao Sokha also discussed security plans for several events in the country, including Khmer New Year, the scheduled Asean foreign ministers meeting in Phnom Penh and the July national elections.

He said that security around markets and pagodas—or anywhere that people congregate to celebrate Khmer New Year—will be increased. He also said that the genda­rmerie will prepare the security plan for the Asean meeting and for the elections.

The three-month military po­lice review was held in Banteay Meanchey to coincide with the opening of new gendarmerie head­quarters there.

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