The overall security picture in Cambodia improved last year but grave challenges remain, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday.
“In general in 2006, we had good security,” he said in an address to the Interior Ministry’s annual congress. “We strengthened peace and unity in society.”
However, the premier highlighted four areas where difficulties persist: the drug trade, traffic accidents, youth gangs and land disputes.
The plentiful amount of drugs being trafficked through Cambodia was making drug seizures easy for authorities, he said.
“We’ve seized a lot of drugs. What does this mean?” he asked. “Even if the police were not good at seizing drugs, they would come across them. That’s why they’ve seized them.”
Hun Sen also lamented the rising number of traffic accidents and deaths.
“It remains a critically dangerous issue,” he said. “There were 3,800 [accidents] and 3,700 the year before. This is the highest traffic accident rate if compared with other countries in the region.”
Hun Sen then called on authorities to rein in youth gangs and to prevent and to resolve Cambodia’s burgeoning disputes over land.
In remarks delivered earlier Thursday to the 2007 Economic Outlook Conference, Hun Sen said he would hold provincial officials responsible for preventing land grabbing and punish those involved in it.
Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, said he welcomed the premier’s remarks but was waiting for results.
“We appreciate the will of our prime minister to solve this problem but we wait to see concrete action before having any confidence in that,” he said. (Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison.)