US Chastises Hok Lundy Over Rights, Trafficking

Cambodian police must prosecute more of their own for human traf­ficking and show greater respect for human rights, senior US diplomats told National Police Chief Hok Lundy in Washington on Tuesday.

Assistant Secretary for East Asian affairs Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary for narcotics and law en­forcement Anne Patterson and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for human rights Jona­than Farrar “also noted the need for the government of Cambodia to address its poor human rights re­cord and corruption,” according to a statement re­leased after the meetings.

Hok Lundy’s invitation to visit the US drew condemnation last week from human rights activists and sparked disagreement within the US government, according to The Washington Post, which reported April 18 that the US State Department had overruled its human rights and anti-trafficking offices in deciding to grant Hok Lundy an entry visa.

Prior to his departure last week, Hok Lundy dismissed the accusations against him.

Deputy National Police chief Mao Chandara responded to the US statement, saying Wednesday that Cambodian police were al­ready doing their utmost. “Day by day, we try our best on those is­sues,” Mao Chandara said.

“The Ministry of Interior has a clear policy on fighting against human trafficking. We never ig­nore it.”

Human Rights Watch Asia Di­rector Brad Adams on Wednesday said the statement from Washington glossed over grave problems. “The US response was pathetic,” he wrote in en e-mail.

“It makes it sound like Hok Lundy just needs some management lessons,” said Adams, adding that Hok Lundy has been accused of serious rights abuses. “Why the US is turning a blind eye to all of this is a sad mystery,” he wrote, though he added “we understand they were much tougher with him in private.”

US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said that the State Department had not minced words with Hok Lundy. “The State Department took advantage of Police Commissioner Hok Lundy’s presence in the US to deliver a very tough, direct message on human rights and trafficking,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The meeting was a good opportunity for him to hear directly the Department’s continuing concerns about these issues.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieu­tenant General Khieu Sopheak declined to comment on the meetings in advance of Hok Lundy’s return to Cambodia later this week.

In an e-mail Saturday, John Mill­er, former director of the State De­partment’s anti-human trafficking office, said Hok Lundy’s previous visa denial in 2005 occurred when the US had evidence of his involvement in human trafficking, charges that senior Cambodian officials have long denied vigorously.

“Maybe there is some new in­formation that Hok Lundy has in some incredible way redeemed himself,” Miller wrote.

A State Department spokesman said last week that the US possessed no information that could legally bar Hok Lundy from receiving a US entry visa. The US em­bassy in Phnom Penh has also maintained for over a year that it possesses no evidence linking Hok Lundy to human trafficking. (Additional reporting by Chhay Channyda.)

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