SIHANOUKVILLE (Khmer Times) – Foreign diplomats this week have called for increased vigilance and caution on Cambodia’s coast, partcularly in places such as Sihanoukville, Koh Rong and Kampot, following a spike in serious crimes against foreigners.
The Australian government updated their travel advisory for Cambodia earlier this month after a number of its citizens were victims of violent crime, incuding one woman who was raped in a tuk-tuk in Sihanoukville.
“Reports of assaults against foreigners in the coastal town of Sihanoukville have been increasing,” the Australian Deputy Head of Mission for Cambodia told Khmer Times.
Travellers should “exercise vigilance at all times but especially after dark, as victims are often targeted at night, when intoxicated and travelling alone,” he said.
Australia’s updated travel advisory notes reports of late-night assaults and thefts against foreigners by motorcycle taxi drivers. Khmer Times has documented frequent alleged crimes committed by tuk-tuk drivers also.
Assaults and armed robberies against foreigners have also been noticed by embassy officials, who warn that foreigners have been “seriously injured and killed recently.”
Of particular concern to the Australian Embassy are “foreigners who have been the target of sexual assaults in Cambodia, particularly in Sihanoukville,” according to the official.
The Deputy Head of Mission, when asked if he was liaising with police in the investigations, said, “the Australian Embassy engages regularly with relevant authorities in Sihanoukville and other provinces regarding the safety and security of Australians.”
Australia’s travel advisory for Cambodia is one of the most detailed and regularly updated resources available for foreign tourists, expatriate residents and business-owners.
Alert on Police Corruption
The United Kingdom’s vice consul also spoke to Khmer Times this week, saying the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) had recently changed its advisory for Cambodia and that it would update it again soon. “Foreigners present an attractive target for criminals,” its warns in its advisory for Cambodia.
“Although most visits [to Cambodia] are trouble-free, the British Embassy continues to receive crime reports from British nationals, with a significant increase over the past year,” the FCO said.
In relation to recent reports of thefts on buses, the British Embassy warns: “If you travel by bus, make sure cash and valuables you have are secured. There have been incidents where passengers have had items taken from bags while asleep.”
In regard to police corruption, the FCO is warning its nationals in Cambodia that they should never have to pay police officers to do their jobs. “There have been reports of police charging fees for some services, including issuing police reports,” the FCO says. “Issuing a police report for crimes should not carry a fee. If you suspect an inappropriate fee is being demanded from you, report the matter to your embassy.”
The vice consul of the UK embassy here also told Khmer Times he had recently met with Chuon Narin, Sihanoukville’s Chief of Police, to discuss progress, concerns and areas for potential cooperation to help improve policing and security in the coastal resort.