A human rights group strongly criticized local authorities and the government Thursday for not properly enforcing laws on fishing lots, saying police hired by private owners to guard the plots often commit human rights violations “with impunity.”
Adhoc officials released a statement Thursday listing seven examples of these violations dating back to 2000. Most of the incidents took place in Siem Reap, Kandal and Kompong Chhnang provinces.
“These violations occur because there is impunity for the military police and inactivity by the proper authorities,” Thun Saray, president of Adhoc, said Thursday.
According to Adhoc, the private owners of fishing lots often hire military policemen to guard their fishing lots from illegal fishermen. These police, in at least 11 instances, have allegedly shot, beaten and, in one reported incident, reportedly stopped a family from rescuing their drowning children.
In March, Adhoc accused soldiers guarding one fishing lot of beating three people who were on the lot’s shoreline, while in another case, the human rights group accused military police of shooting a group of fishermen, killing one and wounding three.
Local authorities said the accusations were “political.”
“What Adhoc is doing is political and is not involved in finding the truth,” said Morn Samon, military police commander for Siem Reap province.
Military police under Morn Samon’s command were accused by Adhoc in March of prohibiting a group of villagers from rescuing three children who were caught in a storm on a private fishing lot in Prasat Bakong district, Siem Reap province. Adhoc also accused the authorities of banning their investigation.
“The military police never prohibited the [family or villagers] from helping his children,” Morn Samon said. “The military police did have a mission on the Tonle Sap to crack down and confiscate weapons from people—mostly Vietnamese.” He would not elaborate on his comments.
Morn Samon added, however, that the military police are looking into the case again because the provincial authorities ordered a second investigation.
Adhoc also sent their statement to the Ministry of Interior on Thursday.
One Ministry of Interior official said the ministry couldn’t comment because they had not seen Adhoc’s statement.