Adhoc Says R’Kiri, B Meanchey Police Engage in Extortion

Villagers in Ratanakkiri and Banteay Meanchey provinces filed complaints with the human rights group Adhoc this week, claiming that police and military police in the provinces were unlawfully demanding money in exchange for the release of detainees, according to villagers and human rights workers.

Human rights workers in both provinces expressed concern yesterday over reports that military police were routinely beating detainees and demanding between $25 and $1,600 from the parents or relatives of people in their custody.

Sev Nhoeung, 45, from Lbaing I commune in Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat district, said commune police arrested four of her relatives on Oct 28. Police accused the young men of being gangsters after they engaged in a verbal dispute during a village dance.

“Police demanded that they each pay $25 for release or they would be sent to the” district police, she said. “Their parents paid the cops because they didn’t want to see their kids face prison.”

Chhay Thy, an investigator in the province for the human rights organization Adhoc, said such cases were not unusual. On Tuesday, the group received a complaint from the relatives of four other teenagers accusing Andong Meas district military police of extorting a total of $100 in exchange for releasing the four, who were arrested on Oct 25 for racing motorcycles, Mr Thy said.

Kith Saren, commander of the Andong Meas district military police, denied the allegations yesterday. He said the teenagers had been held for re-education.

“Nobody loves to say good things when we crack down and hold them for re-education,” he said.

Adhoc’s office in Ratanakkiri has received complaints regarding 12 cases of extortion and violence involving 22 people since April, Mr Thy said.

He added that two officers in the province’s Ta’ang commune police were recently suspended when Adhoc presented provincial police with evidence of the officer’s alleged misconduct.

“I would never let my cops extort money in exchange or release,” said provincial police chief Ray Rai yesterday.

“When someone is angry at cops for briefly holding them for re-education, they will definitely exaggerate the facts to frame police,” he added.

He said his police always sent suspects to the provincial court when there was evidence to justify detention.

The situation is just as bad in Banteay Meanchey, according to Adhoc’s coordinator in the province, Soum Chankea.

“In most cases that Adhoc investigate, the victims are not the real suspects,” he said.

“We also found that suspects who beat up other people were released after paying Poipet City cops $100 in February,” Mr Chankea added.

Poipet City police chief Oum Sophal dismissed the accusation as false.

“Whenever we have evidence we send suspects to the [higher authority] for prosecution,” he said.


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