A police officer in Ratanakkiri province’s Banlung town beat six construction workers and forced them to pay a total of $1,200 before releasing them yesterday, one of the workers and rights group Adhoc claimed.
Construction worker Kong Sok said the officer had accused them of stealing his property after they attempted to sell construction equipment that their employer, who had skipped town without paying them, had left at the policeman’s house.
Police detained them at the Laban Siek commune police station on Monday and the officer in question beat them before forcing them to pay $200 each yesterday, he said.
“We were handcuffed and kicked and slapped several times in the chest and face,” he claimed. “My body hurts all over.”
The six workers had attempted to sell their boss’s cement mixer and machinery because he had owed them about $100 each for more than a month’s work building a guesthouse, Sok said.
“We tried to work to save money, but now we do not have even 100 riel, and our families had to transfer $1,200 to us so police would release us,” he said.
Laban Siek commune police chief Buth Heng said the officer, whose name he refused to give, only had hit the workers with a water bottle and said police had accepted just a small sum from the workers for the food they had eaten while detained.
Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the workers had wanted to file a complaint to Adhoc but had been pressured not to by a broker who helped negotiate with police.
“We will investigate this abuse and corruption even though they did not make a complaint,” he said.