A human rights coalition has expressed concern over the limited scope of the government's
report into the December raid of an Afesip shelter for women.
Naly Pilorge, director of human rights organization Licadho and a member of Cambodian
Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), said the Inter-Ministerial Committee report
ignores the circumstances leading to the women being detained at the Afesip shelter.
Licadho was not involved with the Inter-Ministerial Committee report but conducted
their own investigation into the incident that sparked international controversy.
"I am concerned that the report does not address the illegal activities by the
Chhay Hour II Hotel which were the basis for the General Director of National Police,
Hok Lundy, to approve the raid following police investigations," said Pilorge
on February 23.
On December 7, police raided the Chhay Hour II Hotel in Phnom Penh on suspicion of
pimping and virginity selling, arresting eight people and detaining 83 women at Afesip's
Srey Khan shelter for questioning.
Police released the eight suspects shortly after arresting them.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee report, dated February 1 but released February 17,
stated the women "escaped" a day after being detained.
The government report focuses on the events of December 8, concluding that the women
left the shelter voluntarily, with the help of their families.
"The causes that led to Srei Khon Rest Center's door opened were from the chaotic
scene inside the center and some women shook and pull the doors with the support
from their families such as throwing stones, shaking the doors, kicking the doors
resulted in tin came apart and bolt broken and those women ran away from the center
by themselves," stated the government report.
However, in a strongly worded statement that refuted many aspects of the government's
findings, Afesip said that a group stormed the shelter, taking the women away in
"Afesip maintains that the force and turbulence arising on 8 December 2004 emanated
from those that were outside the gate. The gate was forced in from the outside,"
stated Afesip's February 23 press release.
Further concerns raised by Afesip were why the eight suspects had been released,
and what had happened to the initial police investigation into trafficking, virginity
selling, and pimping of women at the Chhay Hour II Hotel.
"The Inter-Ministerial Committee has completely failed to address the most important
issues raised in the events leading up to the break into the Srey Khan Shelter."
Pilorge agreed that questions remained over the release of the eight suspects, who
she said were actually arrested, not "checked and collected" as stated
in the government report.
"This group, which included the hotel manager and which should be considered
criminal suspects, were in fact released the same day by the police, the reasons
for their release not mentioned or explained in the report."