ELECTIONS may be over but human rights violations are not, rights workers say.
In fact, with observer groups giving generally good reports of polling and counting
day and the removal of international scrutiny, political activists may feel even
more at risk.
Amnesty International is looking at a number of cases where Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy
Party members have been threatened since July 26.
"The point that needs to be made here is that these are Cambodian people involved
in politics who feel very seriously threatened," said Demelza Stubbings of Amnesty.
"They feel more under threat now than they did on July 25 - more exposed, less
Amnesty says victims fear that post-polling problems are not being taken into account
by observer groups.
"One person said to me, 'The problem for us is that no one believes we have
a problem until we turn up dead,'" Stubbings said.
Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy activists in different parts of the country have had their
houses shot at and received death threats, rights workers say.
The local rights group Adhoc said that several SRP activists have fled the provinces
for Phnom Penh because of death threats, including the chief of the Sam Rainsy Party
in Pailin - the only place where the SRP won.
One Funcinpec activist in Kampot is reportedly getting repeated phone calls where
he just hears funeral music played over the line.
"It might not sound like a big deal if you've only been in Cambodia for five
days" but Amnesty believes the threats are real, Stubbings said.
"The Cambodians who talk to us want to know why none of the other foreigners
who came here for elections are interested in their very real security problems,"
UN human rights envoy Thomas Hammarberg, in a Jul 30 press conference, said that
possible post-election recriminations are "a high priority" for his office
and urged the government to be vigilant.
"Much is at stake," he said. "It is very important that the political
leaders of this country will take a strong stance against any attempt to take revenge,
However, he said his office could not confirm any cases of that type.
Meanwhile, the husband of a Sam Rainsy Party candidate, who may have been tortured,
remains in prison without medical care, and the latest UN human rights report, covering
July 18-25, lists five new killings under investigation.
Eight days passed before Danh Teuv was allowed to see his lawyer or his wife, rights
workers say, and a medical team had not been permitted to see him at all - despite
fears that he has been maltreated.
The UN rights report reads: "He, and five other men, arrested apparently in
the same case, have been severely beaten in custody." He has been charged with
masterminding the murder of businessman Vinh Hong.
Since May 20, the UN rights office has received over 400 allegations of election-related
intimidation and violence. 174 are currently being investigated; 82 have been deemed
"credible", including 21 killings.
Hammarberg said of the government's record so far on human rights: "Too little,
of course, has been done. No doubt about that, which I have interpreted as not sufficient
He added that he hoped international interest in human rights in Cambodia would not
fade now that elections were over. "That would not be good for human rights,"
He said he is having meetings with members of the new National Human Rights Committee,
and hoped they will soon take action on the nearly 100 extrajudicial executions his
office has reported as well as the campaign-period cases.
"We are going to bring themwhat we have, offer assistance, international expertise,"
he said. "We will do our utmost."
NHRC member Svay Sitha said he was looking forward to a Thursday meeting with Hammarberg.
"Now, since the skies are blue, we can focus much attention on our work to promote
and protect human rights," Sitha said.