.Hong Menea/ Phnom Penh Post
Police and security guards force former Borei Keila residents, including children, onto a bus during a protest at the Phnom Penh City Hall. The protesters were sent to the Prey Speu Correctional Centre.
A group of civil society groups yesterday condemned the “unlawful” detention of 30 women and children from Borei Keila and described the facility they are being held in – the Prey Speu Correctional Centre – as worse than Cambodia’s prisons and a place of rape, torture and beatings.
The outcry came on a day when husbands and fathers of the detainees travelled to the correctional centre in Chaom Chao commune to plead for their loved ones’ release, the UN delivered food to the 30 detainees at the site, and it was revealed that seven of those detained in the protest were not even Borei Keila residents.
Yann Thoeun, 39, the husband of Chan Sreypheap, who was detained on Wednesday, said officials at Prey Speu had refused to let the husbands and fathers of the women and children enter the centre.
“We are allowed to see and face each other, but we are talking to each other between a metal door,” he said.
The statement condemning the arrests is endorsed by 10 groups, including Housing Rights Task Force and LICADHO, and calls for the immediate release of Borei Keila residents and the closure of Prey Speu.
“The arrests were executed by both police and Daun Penh district security guards. The security guards have no legal power to arrest anyone,” it reads.
“It is not even accurate to call these arrests,” Yeng Virak, executive director of the Community Legal Education Center, says in the statement.
“Arrest implies a lawful warrant, legal due process and criminal charges.”
The statement says organisations such as Licadho and Human Rights Watch have documented widespread abuses, including illegal confinement, rapes, beatings, deaths and torture, at Prey Speu and other social affairs centres.
“Conditions are in many cases worse than in Cambodia’s prisons, and the authorities provide no due process to detainees.”
The Ministry of Social Affairs, which said on Wednesday that the Prey Speu Correctional Centre would provide protection and vocational training for the detainees, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Detainee Sak Mony, 63, told the Post by phone that authorities had forced her to thumbprint a document yesterday.
“Now we are worried that we will be sent to Tuol Sambo or Phnom Bat,” she said.
Seven of the women detained on Wednesday were not from Borei Keila, one of the husbands said — a fact confirmed by Koet Chhe, deputy director of administration at Phnom Penh Municipality.
Borei Keila residents are still calling for the release of eight others arrested on January 3 during violent clashes as 200 homes were demolished.
In 2003, development firm Phan Imex agreed to construct 10 buildings on two hectares of land for Borei Keila residents in return for development rights to a remaining 2.6 hectares. It has constructed only eight.