The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a European rights group, condemned last week’s killing of a human rights activist in Stung Treng province, adding that rights workers were “particularly under attack” for working on land issues in Cambodia.
Seng Sarorn, an activist with local rights group Adhoc and leader of a community group to protect local forest and fishing grounds, was shot dead through the floor of his stilt house July 4 in Sesan district.
The observatory, a joint program of the International Federation for Human Rights—which represents 155 rights organizations—and the World Organization Against Torture, said in a statement received Tuesday that the killing was “symptomatic of the continuing human rights violations in Cambodia.”
It added that “human rights defenders in Cambodia are particularly under attack for their efforts to help poor communities to protect their land.”
Two suspects charged in the case, Sy Vuthy and Taing Huth, were sent to Stung Treng provincial prison Tuesday, Deputy Provincial Police Chief Ek Sivandorn said. He added that three more suspects in police custody have not been charged.
Police officials have said Seng Sarorn was killed following a dispute over a boat.
Chan Soveth, Adhoc’s chief of investigations, said that his group still believed the killing was related to Seng Sarorn’s forestry activism, but could not say whether police had arrested the real killers.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said the police investigation was progressing.
“We don’t care about whether they are [human rights] activists or not, we care about them as victims,” he said.
(Additional reporting by James Welsh)