Police Detain 21 People After Dark in Phnom Penh Curfew

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Police checkpoints are monitoring traffic across the country as authorities struggle to enforce a nationwide travel ban to curb the spread of Covid-19 (National Police)
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Phnom Penh police detained 21 people and confiscated a further 132 vehicles Tuesday night as they tightened their crackdown on Covid-19 curfew violators.

Phnom Penh Municipal Police spokesperson San Sokseyha said 21 people were being questioned by district officers as of Wednesday morning, and the cases were awaiting orders from superiors about whether to pursue further legal action.

“We will ask for more information, and we will wait for the order from the police chief, as well as from the Phnom Penh municipal board of governors, on whether we should impose a fine or, if it is serious, we should [file a case] to court,” Sokseyha said. He added that the 132 confiscated vehicles included 38 cars. Forty-eight of them had been returned after a fine.

Police confiscated 1,053 vehicles in the first four days of the curfew. Fines are around $50 for motorbikes and $250 for cars.

Kim Santepheap, Justice Ministry spokesperson and head of a Covid-19 committee, urged people to strictly follow the renewed restrictions, brought into force at the end of last week as Covid-19’s Delta variant began to spread through the country.

“If the people properly implement and endure hardships in the short term, I am confident that the epidemic will be reduced to a certain level and measures will finish,” he said.

Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said she hoped Cambodia could avoid the surge of Delta cases as previously seen in India and currently racking Thailand.

She added that authorities should avoid hasty punishments against violators of Covid-19 restrictions.

“The measures of [City Hall] have changed, which makes some people not have enough information. They may be lacking, and the authorities should consider adjusting to the actual situation,” Sopheap said.

A 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. curfew in Phnom Penh is currently in force until August 12. City Hall on Tuesday reversed its ban on dining in, allowing restaurants to have sit-down customers as long as health precautions, such as social distancing, are followed. Alcohol sales are banned at restaurants.

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