The History and Achievements of the Cambodian National Police
On 8 August 2006, the Royal Decree #0806/342 of King Norodom Sihakmoni sets the 16 May 1945 the "birth" of the Cambodian National Police. Subsequently, on 5 December 2006, the Ministry of Interior began to develop a plan of action to organize the "62nd Anniversary of the Establishment of the Cambodian National Police" with the three following key objectives:
Cambodia was under the French Protectorate from 1863 (Franco-Khmer Treaty dated 11 August) and 20 years later (1863-1883) we still enjoyed freedom to govern the state. Later, the Franco-Khmer Convention dated 17 June 1884 marked the French consolidation of power. However, it is clearly stated in the convention that Khmer government civil servants continued to govern their own territory under the French supervision.
Therefore, many Khmer people must have sacrificed their time and efforts to strengthen security and social order with France in policing for 61 years (1884-1945) before the establishment of "National Police" on 16 May 1945. From 1884 the police of our country have undertaken activities and realized the following achievements:
I. Late 19th Century: Strengthening of Police Force
II. Organizational Structure and functioning of Police (and Administration) from 1903 to 1939
Note: World Economic Crisis occurred in 1929 gave negative impacts on Cambodia since 1930. Living standard of the people dropped, insecurity appeared nationwide because of the increase of theft. The Establishment of Provincial Patrols in 1931 was one of the additional measures after the Establishment of Commune Patrols in 1925 mainly to cope with security issues throughout the country at the time.
The brief history of activities and achievements in Section I (1884-1945) showed that the organization and structure of the police in Cambodia had close link to national and international political situation and socio-economic changes.
II. Changes of French Protectorate after WWII
2. 1949 Franco-Khmer Treaty
Following the Franco-Khmer Treaty dated 8 November 1949, the Republic of France recognized the Kingdom of Cambodia as an Independent State. The Kingdom of Cambodia reaffirmed its membership in the French Union as an Associated State. However, Cambodia lacked sovereignty especially in terms of judiciary, police, army, diplomacy, and bank-note issuance which would make the country totally independent.
3. Police Sovereignty
III. Police Structure after WWII
It must be noted that from 1925 to 1959, the Khmer terms which resonated with the French word "police" included commune patrol team, police team, Royal police team, and Royal police brigade. After World War II, the police structure was established as follows:
1. Reorganization of Provincial Police
2. Office for Security Control and Coordination
The Royal Decree dated 24 July 1950 established an Office for Security Control and Coordination within the Council of Ministers to be in charge of insecurity in provinces throughout the Kingdom.
3. Self-Defense Office and Provincial Guards (1952)
The Royal Decree dated 26 January 1952 established a Self-Defense Office and Provincial Guards in order to collect information for self-defense, and Provincial Police management, direct and command provincial police, trained commanders, and certain specialized officers for self-defense. These units were under the Ministry of Interior.
4. Provincial Partisans
The Royal Krom dated 22 April 1952 promulgated the law on "Provincial Partisans" assisting the security matter. Provincial Partisans were under provincial governors. However, the number of Provincial Partisans was determined by Ministry of Interior announcement (Prakas).
5. Provincial Guards
The Royal Krom dated 6 June 1952 promulgated the law on Provincial Guards. This new structure eliminated Police Section A and it was replaced by the Provincial Guards.
6. Mobile Army for Self-Defense
The Royal Decree dated 7 August 1953 established an interim special brigade "Mobile Army for Self-Defense". Mobile Army for Self-Defense must be recruited only among "defected Khmer Bandits". Mobile Army for Self¬-Defense must be directly under the Ministry of Interior and Self-Defense.
7. Traffic Brigade
The Royal Krom dated 21 May 1959 established "Royal Brigade". The Royal Brigade is one of the state's police units which enjoyed the power of administration and judiciary throughout the Kingdom. The transfer into the Royal Brigade included staff under Royal Police Team, staff of the Ministry of Area Defense section A-B of former Provincial Guards, staff of Provincial Town and Municipality Royal Police and staff of section C of Provincial Guards.
IV. Mechanism and measure for effective work and social order
1. Establishment of cash box for the advanced payment of Security Brigade
Following the Prakas dated 31 March 1958, "cash box for the advanced payment" which could be balanced after the expenses was established at the Staff Department of Area Defense to manage the following payments:
3. Inter-ministerial Committee to ban alcohol sale on Holy Day
The Prakas dated 22 October 1958 of the Office of Acting Prime Minister established an Inter-Ministerial Committee in charge of banning alcohol sale and other alcoholic liquid on Holy Day in the whole Kingdom.
4. Authorization for the prepayment for Provincial Brigade Units
The Ministry of Interior Prakas dated 26 July 1962 and other Prakas authorized pre payment to Provincial Brigade Units in the Kingdom in order to:
5. Severance Pay to retired officers
The Ministry of Interior Prakas (especially from 1963) required the total payment worth 3 months' salary to any Royal Brigade officer who retired from work because of his or her seniority.
V. Transfer of the duties of Institutions/Ministries to the Ministry of Interior
1. From the Council of Ministers to the Ministry of Interior (1950-1952)
"Office for Security Control and Coordination" established by Royal Decree dated 24 July 1950 and attached to "Office of Prime Minister" was replaced by "Department of Self- Defense and Provincial Guards" under the Ministry of Interior, which were established by the Royal Decree dated 26 January 1952.
2. From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Interior
The Royal Krom dated 8 March 1962 transferred the task of issuing Visas and passports for foreign and Khmer nationals except diplomatic passports and service passports from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Interior.
VI. Delegation of Special Assignment to the Ministry of Interior
"Mobile Army of Self-Defense" which was established by the Royal Decree dated 7 August 1953 must have been under then direct control and command of the Minister of Interior and Self-Defense.
VII. Establishment of National Royal Police Regions in provinces and cities
From 1952, there was an establishment of National Royal Police Region in provinces as follows:
VIII. Establishment of the Commissariats of National Royal Police in provinces and cities
From 1946 there was the establishment of the Commissariats of National Royal Police in the following provinces and cities:
IX. Establishment of Royal Economic Police
In 1952 the Royal Economic Police were established in Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, and Kandal provinces.
X. Establishment of Provincial Security Regions
In 1968 the Security Regions were established in Chlong, Kratie and Kampong Klang, Chikreng district, Siem Reap.
XI. Professional Training of National Police
1. Police Professional Training School
The Royal Krom dated 4 April 1947 established a Police Professional Training School.
2. Training School for Supervisor
The Royal Decree dated 26 January 1952 established the Office of Self-Defense Team and Provincial Guards including a Training School for Supervisors.
3. National Police School
The Royal Krom dated 6 October 1959 established the Royal Police Academy under the Ministry of National Security. One of the responsibilities of the Royal Police Academy was to train new recruits of high-ranking level, and provide a proficiency course to the existing staff on laws, procedure and police professionalism so that they could hold and perform their duties effectively.
5. From Royal Police Academy to Royal Police School
The Royal Police Academy was changed to the Royal Police School. Trainees from the school included inspectors and officers:
After all, in the 2nd batch (1963) there was a female trainee, Ms. Kim Sophai. In the 3rd batch (1966), the female trainee was Ms. Sam Phally. Meanwhile, there was a school in Kampong Chnang province which trained junior management.
XII. Overseas Training of the Cambodian National Police
Apart from the local training, Cambodian National Police members were sent overseas for training purposes in Thailand (1955), Malaysia (1960), Singapore (1960), and especially France as of 1963.
Following the briefing of the activities and achievements from 1945 to 1970, we can see the important roles played by the Cambodian National Police in public security and social order protection at the interval of before and after independence. The tasks came then under the Ministry of Interior to manage the territory at the time that the country was facing increasing pressure of the Cold War.
During the Independence Period, efforts and commitment were made to strengthen and enhance capability of the Cambodian National Police; notably from 1959 when the Royal Police and Royal Police Academy were established following the great attention of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, Head of State of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
However, the war which broke out after the event of 18 March 1970 brought a decline in all domains. The Khmer Republic Regime (1970-1975) was noted to have established "Republic Police" institution.
The motion dated 13 July 1973 established the Republic Police to be in charge of law enforcement and other operational rules and regulations relating to judiciary and maintain order, security, peace, and public tranquility. The Republic Police performed the following duties:
The demise of the Khmer Republic Regime did not bring peace to Cambodia. The assumption of power of the Democratic Kampuchea Government brought about "Social discontinuity". Consequently, we cannot include the four-year Democratic Kampuchea Regime in the history of the Cambodian National Police.
After the 7 January 1979 liberation, everything has been brought to life. The Police institution started operating with the following evolution:
I. Building the Cambodian People’s Police (1979-1986)
The Cambodian social development of all fields came to a halt and began to decline when the civil war broke out on the very land of Angkor Wat in early 1970. However, what had gone beyond imagination was the great destruction by the hands of the Democratic Kampuchea Regime, which shortly before, was applauded and cherished by our people expecting that the war was totally over in the country and brought about national unity and new regime to guide the country toward peace and prosperity. On the contrary, the Democratic Kampuchea Regime led by Pol Pot turned the people’s hope into bloodbath and unfathomable sorrow and grief.
The National France for the Salvation of Cambodia led by its then President, Samdech Heng Samrin garnered a momentum of thorough national solidarity and with the support of the Vietnamese voluntary army liberated the country from the Democratic Kampuchea Regime and put to an end of this genocidal regime on 7 January 1979. A new page of history has been opened – the Cambodian People’s Revolutionary Council was established to carry out a historical task of rebuilding the country.
As part of the country reconstruction, a police institution, then known as the Cambodian People’s Police Force was set up with priority right after 7 January 1979 so as to coordinate with the people’s army to organize social order and prevent the return of the Pol Pot’s genocidal regime. It was Samdech CHEA SIM who became the then primitive Minister of Interior.
From the 2nd semester of 1979, the Cambodian People’s Police Force started to recruit its personnel without considering merits such as qualification, scientific knowledge, and technology which would be the criteria expected in other countries. The belief in the leadership of the Cambodian People’s Revolutionary Party, spirit of volunteer, burning anger at Pol Pot’s regime and loyalty to serve and protect the interest of common people were the conditions to join the police institution. A 3 to 6 months' training course mainly emphasized the general policy of the Party, basic laws, and duties of the people’s police.
Implementing police roles at the time after the completion of the course at the training school presented great challenges. First, the police were new to the job with no experiences, no means of transport, no equipment to support operation and were confronted with the overthrown Khmer Rouge troops who were struggling to return to power. On top of these difficulties and challenges, we were also under great pressure from many extreme and utopian ideologies which attempted to overthrow the ruling government. The challenges, however, encouraged us to work hard and achieved great results in maintaining political stability, social order, and gaining tremendous experiences through the process of "on-the-job training" under the charismatic leadership of the Cambodian People’s Revolutionary Party. The People’s Police institution has continued to grow and gradually strengthened its capability and skills in shouldering the tasks of maintaining social order which could be considered the greatest achievements made within 7 years between 1979 and 1986.
The name of the institution, leadership team, personnel and responsibilities of the People’s Police at the time were as follows:
II. Police Work and Activities from 1986-1989
The security, political, and social reality changed between 1985 and 1986, especially the transformation of jungle force of Pol Pot from waging conventional civil war to ambush war-style operations against the government by forming isolated cells and using bushes, villages, communes to carry out their raids to destroy materials, warehouses, markets, hospitals, roads, bridges and local infrastructure. Owing to these changes, the Ministry of Interior was bestowed with the responsibilities to protect the security and safety of the people living in villages and to pave the way for the army to open major offensive attacks to cleanse Khmer Rouge remnants along Cambodia-Thai borders. This gave rise to the establishment of "A-3.86" in the police force i.e. armed intelligence units formed in 1986 to cope with above- mentioned changes.
The A-3.86 unit dedicated their lives and committed themselves to destroying the maneuver of the ambush war-style of the Khmer Rouge resulting in historic success which would be remembered forever by the police of the next generation.
Although the war took a major number of police officers to help fight the battle, the improvement of skills and management to maintain security, social order for the whole country was enhanced with ongoing attention. Generally, the management of demography, means, and explosives was well set up resulting in low rates of crime i.e. good personal security and well-ordered society.
III. The Activities of the Cambodian People’s Police from 1989 to 1992
Following the Sub-Decree 37 dated 11 July 1989, Ministry of Interior was changed to Ministry of National Security and then H.E. NEY PENA was transferred and replaced by:
1. H.E. SIN SONG
2. H.E. KHIM PON
Vice Minister and then transferred to assume the position of Deputy Prosecutor-General to the Supreme Court in 1990.
3. H.E. SIN SEN
4. H.E. SAM NEAT
5. H.E. LOY SOPHAT
6. H.E. THONG CHON
7. H.E. NOUN SARETH
The A-3.86, which had just become the armed intelligence units of 12 members in each team equipped with AK-47 rifles, was upgraded to armed battalion well equipped with all kinds of weapons for 369 personnel. The companies of Defense Police were also upgraded to battalion with the same number of manpower. A Border Security Guards was additionally established to be deployed in certain strategic provinces and key areas where Pol Pot’s jungle army activities suspected.
Following the success of political settlement and national reconciliation, all rival parties managed to reach a modus vivendi and embarked on the implementation of the Paris Peace Agreement signed on 23 October 1991.
In the capacity as the owner of the premise or local authority, which jointly worked with the UN partners, then known as UNAMIC and UNTAC, the State of Cambodia, especially the Cambodian People’s Police continued to carry out their duty with willingness, national and people interests in the midst of uncertainty of historical events and international pressure.
V. The Activities of the Cambodian National Police after the general election (20 May 1993-16 May 2007)
This phase began with a particular historical event ever happened on the land of Angkor. Subsequently, there were a number of crucially important political developments in which national reconciliation and Win-Win Policy brought about the return of Preahbat Samdech Norodom Sihanouk, the rebirth of constitutional monarchy and the full peace on our beloved motherland.
This important event influenced the changes within the Cambodian National Police. The society took up democracy, multiple political parties, and the respect of human rights. The new trend occurred in Cambodia – the change of parent institution that governed the police, modification of structure, new leadership and responsibilities, integration of police from all former rival parties who mostly did not have any skills or training in policing, appointment of officials based on political quota, new laws, political instability, rather loose management of people identity, and the rejection of repatriated population to the new lives in the mainstream. Such trends became a complicated topic for the newly-setup Cambodian National Police.
Peace and security was the foundation on which political programs, triangle and rectangular strategies spearheaded by Samdech Hun Sen grew. The main priority was to nurture and connect the culture of peace and security and to create an image by which Cambodia was perceived to enjoy peace and security attracting confidence among investors and tourists. Additionally, it is important that the daily life of people be ensured so that they could make contribution to economic development.
Based on the above-mentioned political programs and the two strategies, the Ministry of Interior led by myself (SAR KHENG) as a Co-Minister from the beginning and along with H.E. YOU HOKRY, Co-Minister from 1994 to 2004 and Samdech Krom Khun Norodom Sirivudh from 2004 to 2006 and under the direct leadership of Police General Hok Lundy, Commissioner-General of the Cambodian National Police, this institution has been strengthened in quality, quantity and virtue making great achievements by gaining trust from the people from all walks of life and countries in the world.
Although it is difficult to set different phases during this period due to a number of various events, we certainly could see the achievements made during this time. After the establishment of the coalition government of the 1st mandate, the integrated armed forces including the police were instigated to create chaos, and different political ideologies made the police under the commands of various channels; weapons, ammunitions, and other explosives were in the state of anarchy, which gravely impacted on security, social order, and social safety.
Despite the above event, the Cambodian National Police has been restored and essentially developed towards an institution that adheres to an independent professionalism, high standard and unity under the direct leadership of Commissioner-General of the Cambodian National Police.
Hundreds of local and overseas training courses have been organized to enhance skills, professionalism and code of conduct for police officers. Thousands of senior and junior officers have been trained to upgrade their capability, professionalism, and code of ethics and morality. So far, the verification of actual number of police has been undertaken twice in which thousands of police personnel were dismissed from the organization resulting in an actual number of 52,000 police officers at the moment. We often review the existing system, roles and responsibilities of specialized departments, central departments, and provincial and municipality police commissariats, local and administrative police to ensure that the progress is made to respond to the needs of people and maintain security, social order, and development in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Following the operation made by the Cambodian National Police, they have achieved great success in the last 14 years which could be recorded in the history as a major contribution to the struggle for peace, order, and well-being of people. For the sake of homeland security, the National Police have actively played key roles in preventing hostile activities, which attempt to ruin national solidarity, peaceful existence of neighboring countries, and internal harmony which could lead to a war and destruction, and more importantly, preventing terrorist activities from happening. In the cause of maintaining security, public order, although there are complicated issues affecting political stability, legal loophole, gap in society management, poverty, and some other related factors; the Cambodian National Police have been determined to overcome these innumerous difficulties and challenges in order to carry out their duties with strict responsibility to combat crimes including criminal activities, drug abuse, human trafficking, and other forms of transnational crimes to protect people's lives and properties, and rescue victims. In the mean time, attention has always been given to keep public order in city, crowded areas, certain sites for embassies, economic institutions, tourism, culture, and other recreation areas.