Police Under Fire over Traffic Fines

This combined photo show road traffic (L), Yong Kim Eng, president of the People Center for Development and Peace (PDP) (Upper R) and Pa Chanroeun, president of Cambodian Institute for Democracy of Cambodia (Lower R).

PHNOM PENH – Civil societies have criticized some traffic police as unprofessional over their conduct, saying that in some cases violators were fined more than the amount stipulated by law. 

Fines issued by some traffic police, especially for speeding, have received a great deal of criticism from the public and civil society groups who have called on officers to change their behavior. 

Yong Kim Eng, president of the People Center for Development and Peace (PDP), said he had noticed a lack of quality traffic signs along national roads.

On some roads, signs are broken or missing while others are blocked by commercial signs or trees.

He said violations due to traffic sign issues were the fault of the government, not the citizens. Kim Eng said the government received taxes from citizens and had an obligation to place traffic signs properly.

Eng Kim also urged authorities to deal with problems including the intersection of Battambang to Banteay Meanchey province. Police checked speed there but there were no speed limit signs. In addition, some authorities do not show or mark police checkpoints clearly.

If traffic police behave professionally and drivers still violate the law then drivers should be fined on the spot with no need to challenge the penalty with senior police, he said.

Generally, the principle of fines is not to collect money from traffic law violators, but to urge citizens to obey the law. Kim Eng said some traffic police tried to hide behind the trees or electricity poles before suddenly appearing to stop offenders.

“With the actions of these policemen who exercise their authority in such a secret manner, do they want the people to obey the law, or do they want people to offend the law then to get money?” Kim Eng asked.

Pa Chanroeun, president of Cambodian Institute for Democracy of Cambodia, also criticized these traffic police by comparing speed limit enforcement in Cambodia with Australia, which has different attitudes to law enforcement.

Chanroeun said in developed countries, police often drive vehicles with clear police signs and put up signs to inform drivers about 500 to 1000 meters in advance of checkpoints.

However, in Cambodia, some traffic police behave unprofessionally and unethically in ways that are not appropriate for such a position.

“Therefore, please, the traffic police and relevant authorities, review these negative points of traffic law enforcement and promote the values ​​and professionalism of civil servants,” he said on Facebook on Oct. 14.

Traffic police doing their work secretly is not the only problem. Several ago, traffic police were suspended for three months for using inappropriate words and attitudes to offenders.

Phnom Penh police Chief Lieutenant General Sar Thet said both traffic police and police officers who misbehave will be disciplined by the force, adding that all officers have been instructed on discipline, including the use of appropriate words to people under all circumstances.


Originally written in Khmer for ThmeyThmey, this story was translated by Meng Seavmey for Cambodianess.

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