For almost a year, Chinese police officials have worked from an office in Cambodia’s National Police headquarters to help identify and handle Chinese nationals suspected of committing crimes in the Southeast Asian country, RFA has learned.
The officials have no powers of arrest, however, and only advise their Cambodian counterparts in the arrest of suspects, urging that Chinese already accused of crimes in China be sent home to stand trial, sources say.
Speaking to RFA’s Khmer Service, National Police spokesperson Chhay Kimkhoeun said that three senior Chinese police officials now work in his department under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both countries in January 2019.
“We cooperate with our Chinese advisers in the arrest of Chinese perpetrators,” Chhay Kimhoeun said. “But if we find that [these suspects] have committed crimes in Cambodia, and we are sure that they have done so, we will enforce Khmer law.”
“Please do not think that a few Chinese have now come here as experts, or to control our Khmer police officers. These people are here working only as coordinators,” he said.
Cambodian civil society organizations have noted, though, that Chinese nationals committing crimes in Cambodia, but already wanted for offenses in China, frequently escape prosecution and trial in Cambodia and are simply sent home.
No fear of the law
Speaking to RFA, Am Sam Ath—deputy director of the Cambodian rights group Licadho—said that criminal suspects sent back to China after committing crimes in Cambodia have no reason to fear Cambodian law, and may commit crimes again when they return.
“Cambodian authorities should enforce Khmer law and prosecute Chinese perpetrators for their crimes committed in Cambodia. Only then should they be sent back to China,” he said.
China’s embassy in Phnom Penh has meanwhile asked for stronger cooperation in security and further exchanges of police personnel out of concern for Chinese tourists and investors targeted for violence and kidnapping by other Chinese, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
On Nov. 24, Cambodian authorities arrested five Chinese nationals who kidnapped two other Chinese nationals in a ransom plot where they demanded U.S. $100,000 from their families, the latest of several recent cases in which the suspects and victims were both Chinese.
Cambodia’s immigration department deported 906 Chinese, including 172 women, to China during the first nine months of this year, according to Interior Ministry figures.
Some of those deported were involved in economic crimes in China and were hiding in Cambodia, while others were involved in illegal online gambling schemes or telecommunications fraud in Cambodia, sources said.
Reported by Aun Pheap for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Richard Finney.