Military To File Suit Against Rights Group

The military will file a defamation suit against the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee for allegations made by the organization that soldiers were re­sponsible for the disappearance and possible deaths of nearly two dozen people, co-Minister of De­fense Prince Sisowath Sirirath said Wednesday.

“That is not true at all,” Siso­wath Sirirath said of CHRAC’s accusations, made earlier this month in a statement that has sparked numerous investigations into alleged military slayings in Kratie province.

Rights workers claim at least five people are dead and 25 others missing after a roundup in Snuol district of suspected mem­bers of an anti-government group in late April.

In a statement released Tues­day, the Ministry of Defense countered, saying the dead were bandits killed in a gunfight with soldiers in June during a province-wide “cleanup” of criminals the military blames for 26 deaths, including 17 military personnel.

“The accusations brought by the human rights groups [bring scorn] against…the honor of RCAF,” the statement read.

Ministry officials also said they can account for 17 of the men who went missing after being released from military custody in mid-May.

“Those people are still alive—we have family members who will come forward and say, ‘My son or my husband is well,’” Sisowath Sirirath said.

He acknowledged that three men were found bound and shot in Snuol district but said they most likely were killed by bandits—an assertion backed up by other military officials.

“You cannot believe [rights group’s statements saying the men were killed by soldiers]. There are a lot of personal disputes—we don’t know what happened after we re­leased the men,” Sisowath Siri­rath said.

Rights officials Tuesday re­mained skeptical that the government has tracked down most of the missing men, but did not comment Wednesday on the Ministry’s intended legal action.

The Ministry’s intention to take legal action against CHRAC, an umbrella group of 17 human rights organizations, comes a week after Prime Minister Hun Sen blasted rights workers for protecting what he described as bandits operating between Snuol and Kratie.


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