Riot Has Phnom Penh Seeking More Traffic Police

Phnom Penh’s municipal traffic police chief said Monday he has sought permission to deploy more officers on the streets after a hundreds-strong mob descended on three of his men Thursday and destroyed a police motorcycle.

Tin Praseur added that the three officers, who fled the scene near Olympic Stadium after being ac­cused of knocking a teenager off the back of a motorcycle, were innocent of any misconduct.

“The three traffic police are innocent. [The case] does not indicate a need to reform the traffic police,” he said.

Two teenagers were questioned at the Prampi Makara district police station Friday after traffic police accused them of inciting the angry mob, police said Monday.

Traffic police have claimed that In Nithary, 16, and Heak Thea, 18, encouraged hundreds of onlookers to destroy a traffic police motorcycle Thursday after In Nithary fell from Heak Thea’s motorcycle and sustained minor injuries, Prampi Makara district police chief Yim Simony said.

The teenagers, who claim that In Nithary was knocked off his friend’s motorcycle by the traffic police, deny inciting the mob, he said, adding that no one has been arrested or charged in the case.

Heak Thea was allegedly violating traffic rules by driving against the flow of traffic, and did not heed traffic police who attempted to pull him over, Yim Simony said.

“I just need [Heak Thea] to make a public apology and compensate us for the damage,” Tin Praseur said. Heak Thea and In Nithary could not be reached for comment.

Sann Socheata, road safety program manager at Handicap Inter­national, said that road safety requires quality law enforcement, not just a large quantity of officers.

Police should focus on apprehending dangerous drivers rather than stopping people for not having license plates, she added.

SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said the government should use state media to educate drivers about traffic laws, and that traffic police should enforce these rules—not just take money from drivers.


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