By Kim Chan and Porter Barron the cambodia daily

The government’s human rights committee delivered its page-and-a-half report, limited in scope, for the first quarter of 2004 on Thursday.

The brief report by the Cambo­dian Human Rights Committee focused on “unacceptable behaviors in the streets and at other public places such as a crowd at­tacking the perpetrators who were arrested by the people,” according to an English translation.

Based on reports from Khmer-language newspapers, the committee’s report said there were 14 cases of violent mob justice in 2004.

It praised police for their intervention in some cases but urged the enhancement of “means for the local police” and further investigation into some cases.

The final point in the report offered the committee’s appreciation to the Supreme Council of Magistracy for deciding to punish Municipal Court Judges Hing Thirith and Oun Bunna.

It added, “We are disappointed that those judges, who were disciplined, have spoken groundlessly and manipulated the words to defame the Royal Government of Cambodia. The behaviors do not deserve to be respected at all.”

It also urged further disciplinary actions against judges “so that good judges can be encouraged and [a] better judiciary environment would be given the entire society.”

Human rights are usually de­fined as rights inherent to all people, such as the right to a fair trial, to free speech or to organize politically. Authorities are usually held responsible for their violation.

Asked why the report did not address numerous killings of Sam Rainsy Party members in 2004 and other human right abuses, Om Yentieng, president of the committee and adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, said, “The Cambodian Human Rights Com­mittee is working for human rights and the Cambodian people, not to satisfy the UN.”

He also said he had seen no evidence to indicate any of the killings were political.

“The difference is that the Cambodian Human Rights Com­mittee is working for human rights and for the Cambodian people. The human rights NGOs do the reports to satisfy the donor countries,” he said.

Asked why his committee had not addressed numerous other high-profile cases, Om Yentieng scolded local reporters.

“There is a little difference in terms of responsibility between Cambodian Human Rights Com­mit­tee and newspaper journalists. You can write whatever you want to write, but for us, when we say, we have to have evidence. You can write black or white or whatever you want…but for us, we have to have proof that it is really white,” he said. “Sometimes, The Cambodia Daily does the job the same as the judge, by writing the sentence that ‘the suspects are not Chea Vichea’s killers, they should be released.’”

Relatives of the suspects, the UN and human rights groups have all criticized the police investigation of the two suspects, and witnesses have placed at least one of the suspects in a different province at the time of the union leader’s killing in Phnom Penh.

The Cambodia Daily has never stated that the suspects are innocent or demanded their release.

As for the removal of the two judges, Om Yentieng denied that the decision was political. He also said he had not seen any human rights violations “related to politics.”

Judge Hing Thirith said on March 25 that he dropped the charges against the two suspects in Chea Vichea’s killing, despite having been ordered by a high-ranking government official to pass the case on to trial. Days la­ter he heard of his removal.

On March 26, he went on Bee­hive Radio and said that “about 30 percent of court cases receive pressure” from government officials.

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