Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has written a letter to King Norodom Sihanouk, calling on the monarch to ask Cambodians to stop the extrajudicial killing of thieves, who are often lynched by a mob or shot to death by police.
“These extrajudicial executions are contrary to the Constitution, which abolished the death penalty,” Sam Rainsy said in a letter dated Wednesday.
Leak Vannak, chief of Phnom Penh’s judicial police, said there is a plan to teach police how to treat and protect suspects. He said sometimes when a crowd outnumbers police, the people are able to beat up thieves.
Soun Chheangly, municipal police chief, said the problem is the courts often let thieves go, so people feel vigilante justice is their only recourse.
“The extrajudicial killing wouldn’t happen so often if the courts did not release the thieves all the time,” he said.
In one of the latest incidents, Reuters reported that a suspected motorcycle thief was beaten to death by a mob on Friday, which was Human Rights Day. A number of other cases have been reported recently including a mob beating of suspected thieves within a Phnom Penh pagoda.
Ten days ago, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the rearrest of criminals and suspects released early by court officials after accusations made by Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara.