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'No serious investigations'

INDEPENDENT experts have slammed the authorities' refusal to initiate investigations

into all but two acts of serious human rights violations since the March 1997 grenade

attack.

The assessment was carried out in April by Arun Bahagat, former director of the India

Intelligence Bureau and Professor Peter T Burns, QC, a member of the UN Committee

Against Torture.

They say in their report that "from inquiries made, it became clear that none

of the 42 cases have been seriously investigated or even at all".

They were also concerned about the apparent acceptance of political murder as shown

by the lack of progress into the March 30 grenade attack and the murder of Interior

Secretary of State Ho Sok on the grounds of his own ministry.

"The United Nations experts were struck by the fact that political homicide

engendered no serious attempts at investigation and resolution of the two incidents

with which they were concerned," it says.

"Instead, a culture of impunity for such crimes seems deeply imbedded in the

institutions of governance in Cambodia.

"Only if the will to remedy this condition is manifested at the highest levels

of government is it likely to change."

The report says that the current police and justice system is capable of "dispensing

objective justice", but that depends on its acting independently.

"The processes of law have to move on their own volition and not depend on orders

from ministries," says the report. "The ministries of Justice and the Interior

should only exercise administrative control."

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