Phnom Penh’s top police official said on Sunday that he was unable to arrest the RCAF soldiers involved in the recent shooting of a beer promotion worker as the officers were beyond the scope of his authority.
Municipal Police Commissioner Touch Naruth also said that complaints were not lodged against the drunk Brigade 70 soldiers who shot a beer hostess in the foot because she had not fetched ice quickly fast enough.
“Both of them are RCAF soldiers. No victims’ complaints have been made against the two men yet,” Touch Naruth said.
Arresting the soldiers was the responsibility of the military police, he said, adding that police are also unable to make arrests if victims do not complain.
Municipal Military Police Chief Ya Kim Y could not be reached Sunday.
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the legal aid NGO Cambodian Defenders Project, said Touch Naruth’s response wasn’t good enough.
“Police have an obligation to investigate these cases. It is a crime and it is the responsibility of the state,” he said. “There is no need for a complaint from a victim. If a person is murdered, do police require the dead person to register a complaint before they investigate?”
He said all labor laws apply to beer promotion girls and that failing to ensure workers’ rights could mean punishment for beer companies, which pay the promoters, as well as beer garden owners.
Beer promotion girls and karaoke singers also called on police and other officials to investigate the crimes against their colleagues.
A 23-year-old karaoke singer, who declined to be named, said allowing the soldiers and police to walk free after paying compensation to their victims would only encourage similar crimes.
“Compensation is not the way to solve this matter,” she said.
Also this weekend, Pursat province police on Saturday arrested five of seven men involved in beating a beer promotion girl and the owner of a beer garden, said Doung Sokhonn, deputy police commissioner of Pursat.
The woman had refused to continue drinking with the men on Thursday, the owner had stepped in to defend her.
(Additional reporting by Pin Sisovann)