No meddling in law enforcement, Vietnam cops told

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The Ministry of Public Security has banned police officers from intervening on other people's behalf in the enforcement of laws following increasing reports of cases involving violators who posed as relatives of police officials in order to escape punishment.

All police units must be proactive in preventing, detecting and fighting against impostors, the ministry said in a note Tuesday.

The ministry noted that many violators, especially of traffic laws, were masquerading as relatives and friends of police officials in order to get preferential treatment and be let off without penalties.

Such actions affected the operations and prestige of the public security sector, it said, adding police officers will be strictly prohibited from intervening on anyone's behalf as the law takes it course.

Last month, authorities in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang banned traffic police from using cell phones while on duty in a move designed to prevent well-connected violators from receiving preferential treatment.

The order aimed at stopping influential people from calling traffic officers and securing the release of  traffic violators known to them.

The officers now use walkie-talkies instead.

The reputation of the public security sector has been affected by allegations and actual instances of corruption.

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc last week asked the ministry and authorities in cities and provinces to strictly punish police officers who abet criminals.

The order came as media reports said fake taxis in Ho Chi Minh City operated with the protection of mafias; that police officials in Hung Yen Province and Hai Phong City were looking the other way as criminal gangs engaged in violence and high-profile extortion activities.

Numerous complaints from both foreign and domestic tourists who'd been overcharged by fake taxis in HCMC led to questions about local police not taking stricter measures against unregistered, fake taxis and their drivers.

Industry insiders have said that the taxis are protected by criminal gangs and officials have admitted their failure in solving the problem.

Similarly, police authorities in Hung Yen and Hai Phong have been criticized over their apparent ignorance of violent acts by notorious gangsters, with the crimes brought to light by police with the Ministry of Public Security.

Major-general Nguyen Phi Hung, deputy director of the ministry's Anti-Crime Police Department, told the Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper it was not difficult for police to bust organized criminal gangs and underground gangsters.

The most difficult cases are the ones involving corrupt police officials, because the criminals are alerted by the latter and know how to conceal their crimes, he said.

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