Police in all provinces often unlawfully arrest and detain suspects and release them only after family members have paid bribes to the police, according to a report by the human rights group Adhoc issued on Wednesday.
According to the Adhoc report, the human rights group receives between 10 and 20 cases of alleged police extortion per month.
“According to our investigations, the police always go beyond their official capacity to arrest and detain suspects without court warrants and sometimes torture suspects in order to obtain confessions,” the report states. “In such cases, police must follow procedure and [gather] evidence before they arrest or detain anyone.”
In their latest report, the human rights group details eight cases accusing police and provincial authorities in Mondolkiri, Kompong Speu, Koh Kong, Banteay Meanchey and Kompong Chhnang provinces of abusing their official position by arresting an individual and demanding money from the suspect or the suspect’s family.
In one case, the human rights group accused police in Mondolkiri province of arresting and detaining 35-year-old farmer Ploeun Than, accusing him of harboring illegal immigrants.
The report states that police in Pech Chreada district arrested Ploeun Than on an unspecified date and demanded that he pay the authorities $15 for each illegal immigrant he was allegedly hiding. The report did not state how many illegal immigrants he was suspected of hiding.
The police released Ploeun Than on July 2 but local authorities re-arrested him on July 5 after meeting with commune chiefs, deputy police officials and other local authorities, the report said. He was arrested a third time without a warrant, the report said. The report did not state if Ploeun Than is still detained.
Mondolkiri provincial police Chief Reach Samnang denied that the Mondolkiri police officers or local authorities take money from suspects in exchange for release.
“No one has brought these complaints to me,” Reach Samnang said Wednesday. “I would like to deny that the police force any victims to get money—what Adhoc reports is only one side and it is biased.”