An inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on January 8 revised the framework of the so-called safe village-commune policy and renamed it the safe village-commune-district policy.
The revision was made in response to concerns citizens have raised about the spread of illegal drugs to rural areas
The safe village-commune policy was introduced by the government in August 2010.
It had five main goals: reduce robbery; reduce drug production, distribution and use; prevent prostitution or human trafficking; eliminate domestic violence; and eliminate gangsters, gambling or illegal use of weapons.
The new safe village-commune-district policy has eight main goals:
No theft or robbery; no drug offences; no pornography, prostitution, human trafficking, domestic violence or gangsters; maintaining good hygiene and environment; responding in timely fashion to disasters and all communicable diseases and epidemics; providing quality and transparent administrative and public services; resolving disputes outside the judicial system with efficiency; and no traffic accidents.
Sar Kheng said the policy has been implemented for 10 years and has received widespread support, especially from all ministries, sub-national administrative institutions and the public.
The revised policy is to be included in the strategic plans of each ministry and institution.
“We decided to include districts [into the policy framework] because the provinces also have districts, same as in Phnom Penh. The policy is clearly written, without using the words prevent, eliminate or reduce,” Sar Kheng said.
He explained that the clarification of terms used in the policy was to end any ambiguity.
Therefore, the revised terms of “no theft and robbery” or “no drug offences” are used.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director for rights group Licadho, supports the revised policy, saying it helps to build harmonious, secure and safe living environments for local communities.
But in practice, he said some local officials fail to follow the policy.
“People have raised some issues, such as drug offences that are spreading like an ‘epidemic’ to the rural areas, and ongoing gambling and theft,” he said.
According to Sam Ath, some civil society organisations complain that when they gather for community work, local authorities constantly monitor them.
Sam Ath urged the authorities to spend time on protecting the safety and security of the people instead, such as combating drug crimes more effectively by following the revised policy’s guidelines.
“For the policy to work effectively, [we need] full participation from local officials and for the people to trust the policy and cooperate in its implementation,” he said.
According to the policy draft seen by The Post on January 10, the safe village-commune-district policy aims to continue strengthening security and social order, improving sanitation and the environment, reducing the risk of disasters and communicable diseases, as well as encouraging people to solve disputes outside the judicial system.
All aspects of the policy are meant to facilitate socio-economic development of local communities and to accelerate the reduction of poverty.
The policy also aims to build inclusive measures by increasing cooperation among authorities, the private sector, stakeholders and people across the country.