CHRAC Cites Intimidation Ahead of Elections

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee said Monday that political intimidation is occurring in the run-up to the July national election.

Thun Saray, CHRAC chairman and president of the rights group Adhoc, said 21 people have been threatened or intimidated, 15 party signs have been intentionally toppled, and five party activists have been killed, though no political motive has been established in those killings.

CHRAC did not give the party affiliation of those reportedly intimidated or the parties whose signs have been toppled.

Such incidents show that Cam­bodia is “still facing a political crisis” that “damages the credibility of free and fair elections,” Thun Saray told a news conference.

Those speaking at CHRAC’S news conference were at pains to differentiate between “political murder” and “the death of a political activist,” under which the five cases referred to by CHRAC have been grouped.

Thun Saray noted that there is currently no neutral institution to officially determine whether a death was politically motivated, only a “biased,” CPP-affiliated legal system.

The five deaths referenced by CHRAC involved two SRP activ­ists, two Human Rights Party activists and one CPP activist who allegedly worked for the HRP.

Puthea Hang, president of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, which is a member of CHRAC, said the number of deaths is down from the same time period before the 2003 national election, when 12 activists were killed for undetermined reasons.

CHRAC called on the government to do a better job investigating and prosecuting political intimidation and the deaths of activists.

Commenting on CHRAC’s claims, National Election Com­mittee Secretary-General Tep Nytha emphasized that reports of both deaths and political intimidation have decreased significantly since the 1998 national election.

“If more people are feeling fear and intimidation, why are more people taking part in election activities?” Tep Nytha asked.

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