The very troublesome remark made by Mr Om Yentieng reported in The Phnom Penh Post article Beatings no human rights violations, on May 12, 2011, points to the lack of neutrality, of independence and legitimacy of the Cambodian Human Rights Commission that is chaired by the closest advisor to prime minister Hun Sen.
It is worth mentioning that this same advisor represents Cambodia in the ASEAN Committee on Human Rights.
Even criminals should not be subject to police beatings and brutal assaults. To deny that the beatings of women, children and the elderly in front of the office of the governor are violations of human rights further diminishes the credibility of this national institution in charge of reporting and addressing human rights in Cambodia.
These Boeung Kak lake residents were seeking peaceful solutions to their community sold by the government? One of the women who were detained by the police suffered a miscarriage two days later.
On May 8, eight female workers were injured by anti-riot police as they requested fair compensation for lost wages at the June factory.
Assaults on women not only violates their human rights, but it can lead to other more severe social consequences as it can give the wrong message that such abuse is acceptable. When condoned and not condemned, it can become a norm.
Silencing of the victims is as serious as the act of violence itself.
What reports have been filed by the Cambodian Human Rights Committee on the use of anti-riot police that use deadly weapons against victims of land grabbing? What about villagers detained against their will with no legal representation? What about the confessions they are forced to sign for crimes they have not committed?
Let us remind Mr Om Yentieng that Cambodia is a signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and to all other United Nations conventions that protect and promote human rights. The positions this high ranking official holds are not a privilege and they come with full responsibility and accountability to the people of Cambodia.
The honour for that official comes with a clean performance, integrity and courage to defend human rights. It is shocking and unacceptable that those who have already been deprived of their fundamental rights should have to face such excessive and denigrating abuse such as brutal violence and the total lack of accountability.
State violence against civilians continues with full impunity in Cambodia.
Tactics to spread fear, threats, the use of a biased judiciary and blaming the opposition for incitement are all symbolic of a form of governance that has very little tolerance for criticism and poor commitment to the protection of human rights.
Cambodia needs to move forward and each step must be taken to put an end to darkness when fear is a part of the people’s daily lives. We want an independent human rights committee that is accountable and not a mouthpiece of the government that is part of the problem.
MP, Sam Rainsy Party
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