Crimes up with 211 deaths, influx of foreigners to blame

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Minister of Interior Sar Kheng reports on the increase in crime in the Kingdom. Hean Rangsey

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Wednesday said crimes increased by eight per cent last year, resulting in 211 deaths.

He revealed the figures during the ministry’s 2019 review and laid the blame for the increase on an influx of foreigners into the Kingdom.

“The crime rate last year increased by eight per cent due to the influx of foreigners who committed crimes, but the National Police made efforts to crack down on them, taking action in 89 per cent of cases which was higher than the previous year.

“Some of the offences such as theft under aggravating circumstances, rape-murder, intentional violence, fraud and illegal use of firearms were reduced.

“Measures to prevent and crack down on drug offences were actively pursued in line with the implementation of the anti-drug campaign,” he said.

A ministry report released at the meeting noted that there were 3,196 criminal cases last year compared with 2,969 in 2018.

The cases led to 211 fatalities, 829 injuries and 1,412 people being victimised, while 55 vehicles and 341 motorcycles were stolen.

The report noted that police cracked down on 2,842 cases, equivalent to 89 per cent of offences, arresting 4,119 offenders, of whom 1,074 were involved in drugs.

The other offences included theft, illegal confinement, rape, sexual assault, violence with intent and murder.

The report noted 163 human trafficking and sexual exploitation offences were cracked down on with 219 perpetrators arrested, including 34 foreigners sent to court.

It said 438 victims were rescued, of which 165 were sent to the capital and provincial social affairs departments and 273 to hospitals.

Sar Kheng said that last year, Cambodia also suffered from the influence of extremist opposition groups inside and outside the country.

“The extremist opposition attempted to provoke unrest in society and planned a coup attempt to overthrow the legitimate government,” he said.

He said the armed forces, civil servants, and authorities at all levels had come together to completely defeat the plot in the face of danger.

Rights group Licadho vice-president Am Sam Ath said on Wednesday that law enforcement was limited in relation to the prevalence and increasing use of drugs and drug trafficking.

Lack of education and legal dissemination contributed to a sharp increase in crime last year, he claimed.

“I see drugs as a major factor in the increase in crime because of a decrease in morality in society, a lack of comprehensive public education and deficiencies in law enforcement,” he said.