Zero Tolerance for Lawbreaking Foreigners: Municipal Governor

Foreigners who commit crimes ranging from gambling to acts of violence should be deported from Cambodia, Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema said during Monday’s monthly city hall meeting.

His comments were made as part of an order to district governors and municipal police to eradicate underground gambling dens in guesthouses and hotels now that sports betting parlors have been shut down.

“They used to use coins to play slot machines,” Kep Chuktema said. “Now they use cash to play cards.”

He asked municipal police chief Touch Naruth to take control of hotels and guesthouses to ensure that gambling isn’t taking place inside. He added that Cambodians caught gambling will be sent to prison, and that foreigners will be thrown out of the country.

Touch Naruth clarified Monday that foreigners are still permitted to gamble in designated casinos, but not in guesthouses or hotels. He said the municipality plans to speak with immigration police and foreign embassies about the legality and practicality of summary

Kep Chuktema singled out Vietnam’s deportation practices as a model for his own proposed zero- tolerance policy.

“The Vietnamese government deports Cambodian beggars every year,” he said, adding that foreigners who cause injuries in Cambodian territory will also be deported.

Vietnamese Embassy spokesman Trinh Ba Cam could not be reached for comment Monday, and US Embassy spokesman John Johnson said he did not have enough information to commentabout the governor’s proposal.

According to a Phnom Penh municipal police report obtained Mon-

day, 15 gambling parlors have been closed, 52 people have been arrested, and 15 people have been sent to court since Prime Minister Hun Sen outlawed gambling last month.

Touch Naruth said Monday that no serious crimes have been committed in Phnom Penh since the arrest last week of three “notorious robbers” who confessed to having committed seven robberies with AK-47s.

Police reports also show that po-lice logged just 11 serious crimes in the first 29 days of March, matching the 11 serious crimes reported in February.

The city police records also show that, in total, only 30 crimes were, committed within the city in the first 29 days of March, down from 40 crimes in February.

March’s serious crimes included two killings as well as domestic break-ins, motorcycle robberies and a jewelry robbery. The police reports mention Dangkao district on the outskirts of the city as a hotbed for crime.

Touch Naruth also said Monday that police will be setting up weapons checks along the streets at night, and that the majority of gun crimes are being committed using guns owned by public officials.

“Some officials have mission letters proving their right to carry a weapon…but we are concerned that some bad officials will use their mission guns for criminal purposes,” he said.

Kep Chuktema added that many serious crimes in Phnom Penh involve personal bodyguards and the children of powerful families.

Ya Kim Y, Phnom Penh municipal military police commander, said Monday during the meeting that military police officers will not be granted days off beginning April 1 in order to protect garment factory workers traveling to and from their provincial homes for the Khmer New Year.

“In our experience, criminals commit robberies before and after Khmer New Year celebrations, while crimes rarely happen on celebration days,” Ya Kim Y said.

(Additional reporting by Bethany Lindsay)

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