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Commit a crime in Cambodia and face the consequences

By: TFAE Posted: February-28-2011 in
If convicted this is where he will end up - Kampot Prison (click for more photos)

Yesterday I saw a motorbike zooming towards the Kampot jail with a man sat between two policeman. He was bare-chested and so I presumed he was a thief who had just been apprehended.

It got me thinking about how different things are here. I get that police vans are expensive but it just seemed totally bizarre that a criminal was being transported on a motorbike with two other people already on it.

When I was first arrived in Phnom Penh in 2002 I was amazed, shocked but also oddly fascinated when I experienced a mob beating. A bag snatcher had been caught in a local market near to where I was living and I watched as the local community beat him to within an inch of his life. It was quite a harrowing experience that I will never forget but interestingly I remained as a spectator until the police eventually turned up and dragged him away.

Mob beatings and killings continue to happen in Cambodia. Only last year three thieves were caught stealing a motorbike outside Phnom Penh from two sisters. Four hundred villagers then administered beatings that left two dead and one severely injured. The police were too scared to intervene for fear that the crowd may turn on them too.

Someone actually caught the image of the beating taking place. It is a bit gruesome but for those who are inquisitive it can found here along with a brief article.

In Phnom Penh shoplifters who are caught in the supermarkets are shamed on a poster for all to see. I can’t see this happening in Boots or Tescos back home.

Luckily we live in a part of Cambodia now where there are very few instances of thieving.

However, a few weeks ago three guys walked into one of my shops in Phnom Penh, pulled a gun on the staff member present and walked off with a 64GB iPad. Nothing could be done and the police weren’t even informed, simple as that.

The problem, as I see it, is that the police here do hot have the resources, training or financing to put together a decent force and so robberies and thieving will continue. Until this is resolved I fear that communities will continue to take matters into their own hands and therefore countries such as Cambodia will continue to be thought of as backward and a bit uncouth.

Every so often when I see an instance like the police with a thief on a motorbike it reminds me that I am choosing to live in a third world country where things work very, very differently to back home.

Any ideas on how to tackle crime here or in other third world countries? Has anyone witnesses a mob beating? Leave a comment if you have one.

Source: TFAE

TFAE is a Brit blogger who left the world of 9-5 in the West over ten years ago and now lives happily in rural Cambodia.


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