Embassy representatives and NGOs are declining to participate in the government’s inter-ministerial investigation into the Dec 8 raid on the Afesip’s women’s shelter, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Thursday.
The government had hoped embassies and NGOs would either help the committee investigate or observe the probe to ensure it is conducted lawfully and that witnesses are not pressured, Khieu Kanharith said.
“The embassies and NGOs don’t want to participate,” he said.
“We invited all the NGOs, not just Afesip,” he said. “How much more transparency do they want?”
NGO staff are welcome to act “like journalists embedded with US troops in Iraq” in the investigation, Khieu Kanharith added.
The Human Rights Action Committee, a group of 18 NGOs, turned down the invitation because it is conducting its own probe, said Kek Galabru, founder of Licadho, which chairs the committee. “We don’t use [the government’s information. We’d like to have our own findings,” she said.
So far, the committee has only been allowed to speak to three women employed at the Chai Hour II Hotel, in interviews conducted on the premises, Kek Galabru said. “We are not very satisfied,” she added.
Deputy Prime Minister and co-Minister of Interior Sar Kheng gave an update on the government probe to officials from Western embassies Wednesday, Pierre Legros, Afesip director said. Officials from the British, US, Australian and French embassies attended the update, two sources familiar with the case said.
The British and Australian embassies did not return phone calls seeking comment on the meeting, while the US Embassy declined comment. Karaoke and massage facilities at the hotel were closed Thursday, though senior police and municipal officials said they were uncertain why.
The hotel referred questions to lawyer Yin Wengka, who said he was unaware of the closure, but added that only the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has the right to shut the hotel. “If it is closed, it means the hotel is guilty, so it can’t be closed,” Yin Wengka said.