Licadho Alleges Torture of Suspects Widespread

Local human rights group Li­cad­ho called on the government to establish an independent complaint council to investigate torture by police on Sunday—International Day in Support of Victims of Tor­ture.

In 2002, three Svay Rieng prov­ince policemen were sentenced to three months suspended senten­ces for torturing two schoolchildren, Licadho said in a statement.

In a second case, a policeman beat a 13-year-old boy to death but was sentenced to only two years in pri­son after human rights groups ad­­­vocated strongly for a full in­ves­ti­­ga­tion and trial, according to Li­cad­ho.

“There are lots of complaints,” Licadho President Kek Galabru said Sunday.

“But there were only two cases we could find where police were ever punished,” she said.

“[The officer] should have been sentenced to 20 years. Can you imagine beating a boy to death?” Kek Galabru added.

In 2004, Licadho staff interviewed many prisoners and de­spite the presence of guards during the interviews, 60 prisoners claimed they had been tortured, she said.

“Police have to learn how to in­vestigate cases not just beat people into confession,” she said.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the law does not permit torture and added that Cambodia’s multiparty democracy helps to ensure police are monitored. No new complaint council needs to be created, he said.

“The competent authority has accepted all the complaints,” Khieu Sopheak said. “The general directorate of inspection has functioned…. If anybody has any problem, the people can file a complaint to this place.”

Leaving suspects tied up for long periods, denying food, water and medical treatment, holding a pistol to a suspect’s head, threatening family members and beatings are the most common types of torture practiced in Cambodia, Kek Galabru said.

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