Violence against women and children, an increase in drug use and the curtailing of freedom of expression were among the major problems facing Cambodia during 2002, according to Adhoc’s 2002 human rights report, which was issued earlier this week.
Political violence associated with the February 2002 commune elections and the clamping down on organized demonstrations also hurt the human rights situation in Cambodia, the report said.
“Violence against women and children has become more and more severe,” the Adhoc report said. “Impunity, poverty and deteriorating social morality are the major causes of such violence.”
The reported rapes in the 12 provinces in which Adhoc works increased to 270 in 2002 from 182 in 2001, the report said.
The number of rape victims between 4 and 10 years old also increased about 5 percent in 2002 to comprise 24 percent of all rape cases reported. The number of victims age 11 to 17, however, remained high, with those cases making up 52 percent of the caseload.
Adhoc found that prosecution of accused rapists was extremely low, and only 4 percent of the alleged offenders were convicted.
Drug use among street children also increased, the report said.
“The need for money and the lack of other sources leads some street youth to frequently sell their blood [for drugs] and further compromises their health,” the report said.
Meanwhile, freedom of expression in print and broadcast media decreased, especially during the commune elections, the report said. “Expression through radio and television, particularly through TV, is strictly controlled by the ruling party and the Royal Government,” the report states. “Any information that is in opposition to government policy is not broadcast on TV—this includes information relating to demonstrations and strikes by workers, teachers and student movements.”
The report said violence against demonstrators by the Pagoda Boys student group worked against the constitutional right to protest, as did the government’s reluctance to issue protest permits. The report was compiled before the Jan 29 anti-Thai riots.