Several hundred economic unit police officers, deployed along the country’s highways and border checkpoints, have been recalled to Phnom Penh for “re-education,” Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Wednesday.
The National Police ordered the return of all economic police to the capital within a week to attend a series of training courses on their duties, Khieu Sopheak said.
“We stopped allowing them to work outside the city until they get a new order,” he said. “We want them to learn additional technical capacities and discipline.”
Though he did not cite poor performance, Khieu Sopheak said “their discipline deserves to be strengthened in order to serve our people better.”
He did not mention when the officers would be returned to their posts. Economic police, who are responsible for collecting taxes from businesses, have been widely criticized by travelers, taxi drivers and politicians for collecting money illegally.
Those deployed along National Route 1 and Route 5, in particular, have been blamed for setting up illegal checkpoints. The checkpoints became so prolific that Prime Minister Hun Sen last month threatened to remove provincial officials if the checkpoints were not taken down.
Chung Praseuth, Banteay Meanchey province acting Cabinet chief , said Wednesday that top officials there have only limited authority over the activities of economic police. Though the province beefed up efforts to end illegal checkpoints, Chung Praseuth said, the police did not cooperate.
“They keep extorting money from people,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Police have made a number of significant shuffles nationwide in a “regular administrative movement,” First Deputy Director of National Police Chief Sao Phan said.
Among the shuffle, Poipet immigration Police Chief Pich Saran was transferred to Siem Reap International Airport and replaced by Men Kengly, an immigration official from the Cambodia-Vietnam Bavet border checkpoint, according to Bun Hor, the director of the Poipet border checkpoint.