Election NGO Decries Day-Long Questioning of Volunteers

The Neutral and Impartial Com­mittee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia has criticized police in Takeo province for the lengthy questioning of five of its volunteer workers on Thurs­day and Friday.

The five were taken in for questioning by police in Takeo while visiting villagers and collecting names of people who support the speedy ratification of Cambodia’s long-delayed anticorruption law, Nicfec President Puthea Hang said Friday.

Four of the volunteers were held by police from 8 am to 6 pm Thurs­day, said Puthea Hang.

Sam Kuntheamy, Nicfec anticorruption petition coordinator, said a fifth had also been questioned for a short time on Friday.

“The police invitation to question them took too long—almost the entire day. It looks as though it was a detention,” Puthea Hang said.

“[The police] should reduce such procedures in order not to take such a long time,” he said.

Sam Kuntheamy said that a total of 34 volunteers had taken part in the project since Dec 19 and that volunteers were also collecting thumbprints for the petition in Kandal, Prey Veng and Kompong Thom provinces.

Both the Interior Ministry and Takeo provincial Governor Srey Ben were notified of the petition drive and the volunteers had done nothing unlawful, Sam Kuntheamy said.

“We are upset with the acts [against the volunteers]. It doesn’t comply with the law. We don’t like the measures taken by the authorities and it is very regretful. This work is for society,” he said.

Chrea Sreang, a monitor with local rights group Licadho, said he followed the four volunteers on Thursday as police took them from Kirivong district to Takeo provincial police headquarters.

Khun Bunthin, chief of the prov­ince’s central security department police, questioned the four inside his locked office, Chrea Sreang claimed, adding that the four were released following the intervention of the provincial governor Srey Ben.

Contacted on Friday, Srey Ben declined to comment referring questions to police. Kirivong district police officer Meas Sorphon also declined comment and refer­red questions to provincial police.

However, Takeo provincial dep­u­ty police chief Suon Phon re­ferred questions to Khun Bunthin.

Contacted by telephone, Khun Bunthin denied having questioned the volunteers.

“That information is not true,” he said. “They just made that accusation up out of their minds,” he added.


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