A MNESTY International has called for an immediate, impartial investigation into
the detention and alleged torture of Sam Rainsy's four bodyguards on July 13.
Amnesty said the men were interrogated for 16 hours by up to 30 soldiers who
wanted them to identify Rainsy as having links with the Khmer Rouge.
were allegedly beaten with rifle butts, punched, had guns pointed at them and
one told: "If you don't answer, your head will be soaked with blood... Even if
you are not shot, your head will be smashed to bits, and no-one will be able to
Amnesty said: "In the light of this incident, Amnesty again
fears for the safety of Sam Rainsy and his family. Rainsy is currently on a
visit outside Cambodia, but given the attack on his bodyguards, there is concern
that he may be in danger on his return home."
Amnesty said this was
"merely the latest incident in a dismal catalogue of restrictions on the rights
to freedom of opinion, expression and association in Cambodia in the last 12
The human rights watchdog said that since the apparent coup
attempt a year ago this month, the government "has become increasingly
intolerant of criticism of its ministers and their policies". Rainsy's guards -
Um Samoeun, Seng Sopharith, Nguon Han and Cheav Koab - say they were invited to
a restaurant and later to the house of a friend, but were instead taken to the
base research department of the Ministry of Defense.
Amnesty said Defense
Minister Tea Banh had denied the claims the men were beaten, saying they had
just been asked questions that had nothing to do with Rainsy.
criticized the Press Law, saying the article that stated the press should not
publish information that affected national security was not defined and could be
used for arbitrary punishments.
"It is clear from the attitude of the
government that the determination to silence its critics comes higher on its
list of priorities than the internationally guaranteed rights of all Cambodia
Amnesty wants the government to provide adequate guarantees for
the security for all elected representatives, singling out Kem Sokha and Ahmed
Yahya as potential targets for expulsion for having defended
"[Amnesty] regrets that it has not seen improvements in the human
rights situation in Cambodia since March of this year, and that recent events
represent a considerable step backwards.
"In particular, the abduction
and torture of Sam Rainsy's bodyguards is reminiscent of tactics not seen in the
country since before the 1993 elections."
Amnesty called on the
government to ensure that all harassment, threats and intimidation against
politicians and journalists stop, and investigations made into previous killings