An annual crime report presented Thursday by the Phnom Penh Municipality claims a 28 percent drop in serious crime in the capital, though a leading human rights organization said it was skeptical.
“Although crime is down…our capital is still facing critical problems with drug production…land grabbing, domestic violence and gambling which we could not control at all,” Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema told more than 100 municipal and police officials during a meeting at City Hall.
Land management in the capital has been handled very poorly, and has led to many property disputes, the governor said, adding that particular care must be paid to such matters to prevent the “farmer revolution” warned of by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Last year, 606 serious crimes were committed in Phnom Penh compared to 847 in 2005—a decrease of 28 percent—said Municipal Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong who presented the report.
The bulk of the reduction was in robberies, which went down 51 percent, from 430 cases in 2005 to 210 last year.
Murder, however, rose slightly, Pa Socheatvong said, with 30 cases in 2006, two more than the previous year.
Not included in the latest statistics are killings, which stood at 44 for 2005, and rapes, which were not mentioned either in the 2005 report. Demonstrations and strikes went down 61 percent, with 55 cases last year compared to 141 in 2005.
Kek Galabru, president of local rights organization Licadho, said she was surprised to hear that crime had dropped to such a large degree. “If it’s true, it’d be good for us. But we doubt [it] because we don’t know if the police are active enough on this,” she said.
Poor salaries and equipment make it difficult for police to enforce the law to the best of their ability, she said.
Licadho noted a drop in rape cases in Phnom Penh in 2006—at least cases reported in the media—with 35 reported by the press in 2006 compared to 47 the previous year, Kek Galabru said. However rape is up slightly nationwide, she added.
(Additional reporting by John Maloy.)