US Report Criticizes Gov’t for Political Killings

Allegations of politically motivated killings and a lack of prosecution for perpetrators continues to tarnish Cambodia’s human rights records, the US State Department reported this week

The report, titled “Supporting Democracy and Human Rights: The US Record 2003-2004,” lists the strategies employed by the US to promote democracy and combat rights abuses worldwide.

“Cambodia’s human rights record remained poor. Although there were improvements in some areas, there were a number of allegations of political killings and a climate of impunity for violence continued,” the report stated.

“There were credible reports that some members of the security forces tortured, beat and otherwise abused persons in custody, often to extract confessions,” it added.

Among the cases noted in the report were the killings of Fun­cinpec adviser Om Radsady, pro-Funcinpec radio journalist Chuor Che­tha­rith and Free Trade Union Pres­i­dent Chea Vichea, who was gunned down on a busy Phnom Penh street in January. The investigation into the killing of Chea Vichea has been roundly criticized by human rights workers and opposition parliamentarians over the alleged intimidation of witnesses and shoddy evidence used to link two suspects to the killing.

Last month’s report by the Cambodian government’s human rights committee didn’t mention political killings in Cambodia.

Om Yentieng, head of the government’s rights committee and adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen downplayed the report Thurs­­day and criticized the US’ own human rights record.

“I think the crimes that the US [speaks of in the] report are small scale,” Om Yentieng said. “The US has bigger criminals than in Cambodia,” he said.

So Inn, director of investigations at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said Thursday that police investigations were ineffective in high-profile killings.

“Police still have no ability to investigate properly,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Kim Chan and Saing Soenthrith)

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