Phnom Penh City Hall has set its sights on the many pawn shops in the city, ordering police to check that each shop has proper registration papers.
City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey said shops without proper documents would be shut down.
“We ordered officials in 12 districts in Phnom Penh that within the next two weeks, they have to check all shops to see if the shop owners have registered or not,” Mr Meas Pheakdey said.
He said the initiative was to ensure that all pawn shops properly follow regulations and do not operate as middlemen for stolen goods.
“If we find that any pawn shop has no licence to operate we will require them to close temporarily and then apply to the authorities to get licences,” Mr Meas Pheakdey said, adding shops that failed to do so would be closed permanently.
Mr Meas Pheakdey added that even some registered shops probably receive stolen goods and that the authorities must put a stop to such practices.
“They have licences to operate their shops, but they don’t operate it properly following the law when their clients come to receive loan proceeds and owners do not check where the assets are coming from,” he said.
“In such cases, it’s safe to say that the shop owners are intentionally receiving stolen goods.”
“Our authorities must keep an eye on this and shut down this kind of pawn shop too.”
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network of Social Accountability, said the initiative was admirable but unlikely to succeed without help from national police as well.
“If they just let district authorities check all the shop’s legal documents across Phnom Penh, they cannot do that when they face-off with powerful shop owners,” Mr Chey said.
“An inspection commission from the national level would make this initiative more effective.”