Provincial and municipal police involved in unofficial checkpoints will be fired and their superiors will be held accountable, National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy warned in a statement Friday.
Municipal and provincial police commissioners were ordered to “arrest those who set [checkpoints] up and bring them to strict punishment by the internal rules and eject them from the national police framework,” Hok Lundy wrote. Mobile police teams were also ordered established in provinces and municipalities to inspect roads on a daily basis to ensure they are free of checkpoints.
The order follows Prime Minister Hun Sen’s statement at a seminar on good governance Thursday, during which he promised once again to end the traditional practice of authorities extorting money from drivers and passengers at illegal checkpoints on the nation’s roads.
Hun Sen berated police and military officials who he said adorned themselves with the stripes and stars of high rank on holidays, yet could not keep public roads open for travelers.
Phnom Penh municipal police Chief Heng Pov said Friday that the orders also extended to the capital’s ubiquitous traffic police.
Any payment to blue-uniformed traffic police must be accompanied with a receipt, Heng Pov said. “This is not allowed to exist any longer…If [traffic police] intentionally violate the law, they would face strict punishment by the law. The prime minister raised this matter,” he said.
Several taxi drivers on Friday welcomed the premier’s vow, but were skeptical that the momentum would last.
“In at least three months, when the premier forgets once again, they will come back,” said driver Chhiv Sopheap. “It won’t take long, because the police need money.”
A second taxi driver, who declined to give his name, said the worst culprits are customs officers and the economic police department. “If I do not give them money, they would confiscate my car. They extort money from innocent people like they were animals,” he said.