Report Portrays Rich Allegedly Abusing Poor

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.

 

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