The Cambodian Center for Human Rights’ report on 49 cases it investigated from April through June depicts a wide variety of ways the powerful have allegedly been able to abuse the poor.
The report received Thursday describes a shooting at a wedding and one at a restaurant, both not properly investigated allegedly due to the power of the perpetrator, and two cases of men allegedly tortured by police. In numerous instances, wealthy individuals allegedly paid victims not to bring charges against them.
“There has been no improvement in the access of poor people to justice,” Danilo Caspe, head of the center’s investigation division said Thursday. “There has been an increase in illegal arrests, harassment and physical assault.”
In six of the cases highlighted in the report, a Sam Rainsy Party activist or his family was victimized. But there is no evidence of a large-scale conspiracy against the opposition party, Caspe said. “Let’s say it is a natural tendency of the authorities toward those viewed as the political opponents.”
According to the report, two opposition party activists were murdered during those months. One activist, Vong Nom, 55, was killed by an unidentified group while he was sleeping at home in Kompong Speu province. The other activist was killed by the brother-in-law of a Svay Rieng province village chief. Both cases remain unresolved, the report states.
In addition, a Kampot opposition commune council member was allegedly severely beaten by a commune police chief “while his police officers held the victim’s neck,” states the report.
Caspe said that access to justice could be improved by completing a review of the criminal procedure law.
“In particular, trials in absentia are unfair because the poor are unable to attend their own trials,” he said. “There are no laws about how evidence is used including evidence from witnesses. Judges can decide not to allow witnesses for the accused.”
The two families will also receive $700 to cover added traveling expenses to their new homes and plots of land in Russei Keo district’s Phnom Penh Thmey commune, said Oum Sarun, a teacher and member of one of the two families.
The government gave the campus to the Mong Reththy Group in exchange for the company building a new campus in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district. In July, 16 families accepted $3,000 payments and plots of land to leave.
Huot Vanna, whose family is one of the 16, said Thursday that the families are still waiting for their $700 travel expense payments.
An Pagna said that the families can pick up the payments at the Mong Reththy Group’s office at any time but have yet to do so.