Eleven people in the capital were jailed for allegedly violating harsh Covid-19 measures put in place since April, a police spokesperson said, and hundreds of others had been fined or sent to quarantine, but eventually released, for not following the city’s lockdown rules.
San Sokseyha, a spokesperson for the Phnom Penh Municipal Police, said police officials had implemented Phnom Penh City Hall lockdown measures and curfew since April 14, and that while most residents had complied with the authorities in following the guidelines, a number of people were found in serious violation of the rules.
“The court decided to place 11 people in detention,” Sokseyha said. “We have sent 1,478 people [to quarantine] and [fined] 390 people.”
As the capital’s Covid-19 case numbers rose sharply in April, Phnom Penh officials implemented harsh lockdown measures in parts of the city. These areas were designated red zones and restricted almost all movements, with police and local officials allowing residents to buy food supplies and essential items only through limited official channels.
In May, the city removed all red zones after reports of food shortages in the city. This week, the city extended the relaxed restrictions for two more weeks.
Police officials were also seen using canes to beat people who left their homes, a measure that was later rescinded by Interior Minister Sar Kheng.
Sokseyha added that courts had found enough grounds to charge the 11 people, saying most of the charges involved obstructing the implementation of lockdown rules and were violations of the newly-passed Covid-19 law.
“For the majority [of cases], we educated people who breached [rules], but [we] cannot tolerate people who were supposed to be in quarantine but they did not follow it and they instead went to the provinces to hang out and infect others,” the police spokesperson said.
He said 40 taxi drivers had been caught attempting to ferry people to the provinces but that the drivers had accepted paying fines. All drivers had paid fines except for seven, he added.
Phlong Sophal, a spokesperson for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said he could not remember the number of people charged for violating Covid-19 measures, but that there were many cases, and directed queries to the Justice Ministry.
“There were lots of charges and [the court] received a lot of cases, and sentenced or fined [people] for crimes related to the violation of Ministry of Health and local administration guidelines,” he said.
Justice Ministry spokesperson Chin Malin said he was busy and did not answer a reporter’s queries.