Kampot’s provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc filed a complaint with the provincial court on Monday alleging that the provincial agriculture department director had her briefly held for questioning over her investigation of a land dispute.
Adhoc’s Try Chuon said armed authorities attempted to confiscate her camera on Thursday when she was photographing the homes of villagers in Chhuk district, who claim that officials are taking their land.
When she refused to hand over her camera, the officers—including police, military police and soldiers—allegedly surrounded her in a rice paddy and refused to let her go for approximately 30 minutes.
“Chan Chesda, director of the agriculture department, used his power to order armed police, military police and soldiers to grab me to meet him,” Try Chuon said.
“After he checked my digital camera, he threatened me to keep quiet about the brief detention,” she said.
Try Chuon added that she is now seeking $2,500 in compensation.
Chan Chesda could not be reached for comment.
Kampot Provincial Court Chief Prosecutor Ouk Kimsith confirmed that his clerk had received the complaint but said he had not yet examined it.
Chhuk district Governor Ngan Seth said a court warrant had been issued to clear the villagers’ homes because they are living on land granted to a businessman, So Nguon, as part of a 19,800-hectare government-awarded land concession.