The Environment Ministry on Tuesday issued two directives reminding park rangers to properly manage their small arms and refrain from donning unsanctioned uniforms.
According to the first directive, rangers must follow 10 points on how to properly store their weapons, meet safety standards and when to use their rifles during patrol missions.
It said rangers must have proper mission orders and weapon identity cards before going on patrols with their firearms. It noted rangers are prohibited from firing unless they are protecting themselves.
“Rangers stationed in protected areas who have the right to hold these weapons are strictly prohibited from selling, transferring or lending weapons and ammunition to anyone,” the ministry said.
It noted that local environment departments must have their rangers trained by qualified military trainers on how to use and maintain assault rifles.
According to the second directive, rangers must use uniforms, hats and insignias issued by the ministry.
“Rangers are not allowed to use uniforms and other apparel that go against regulations,” it said. “These include apparel bought at the market, such as belts and hats.”
Ear Sokha, director of the Preah Vihear provincial environment department, yesterday said Defence Ministry-issued weapons come with guidelines on how they should be managed.
Mr Sokha said the next step is for his department to properly disseminate the information to rangers working in the field.
“We have to inform all rangers in protected areas by providing a copy of the directives,” he said. “We need to tell them to implement these directives.”
Neth Pheaktra, spokesman for the Environment Ministry, yesterday said the directives were issued to ensure better management of weapons and ammunition in protected areas.
Mr Pheaktra noted that the Interior and Defence Ministries provided input on the matter.
“The orders are to promote good management because these are weapons,” he said. “It’s important to be careful and have them be well managed.”
“The ministry had to issue these directives to remind them on how to properly meet standards,” Mr Pheaktra added.
Mr Pheaktra noted that the ministry has been managing 62 protected areas with landmasses surpassing seven million hectares.
He noted that within these 62 protected areas, a total of 1,220 rangers are stationed there to prevent forestry crimes.
Pen Bonnar, a programme officer with rights group Adhoc, yesterday said he supports the ministry’s initiatives to remind rangers to be careful when using and managing weapons.
“It’s good for rangers to have weapons to defend themselves because perpetrators have guns and they fight back,” Mr Bonnar said. “However, rangers must be careful when they use the weapons to avoid them from using the guns to hunt or use them outside of patrol missions.”