The Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) has urged its members and the general public to avoid resorting to violence as a means of problem resolution. Instead, they advocated for issues to be resolved peacefully and legally, according to a February 9 press release from the bar. 

Civil society organisations have also pressed the police to intensify efforts in monitoring illegal gun possession. 

Their appeals followed an incident where 32-year-old lawyer Touch Vattanak fatally shot his “ex-girlfriend” on the evening of February 8 in Phnom Penh Thmei commune, in the capital’s Sen Sok district. 

The police reported that the suspect subsequently shot himself and was transported to the Cambodia-China Friendship Preah Kossamak Hospital but passed away on February 10. 

“We do not condone violence as a means of resolving issues and urge our members to refrain from such violent actions,” stated the BAKC.

Am Sam Ath, operations director at the rights group LICADHO, emphasised that neither individuals nor groups should opt for violence as it undermines human dignity and the law. 

“It is crucial that lawmakers and authorities exemplify non-violent conflict resolution, as their actions greatly influence societal norms. Resorting to violence can have detrimental effects on national society,” he said. 

He expressed concern over the escalating issue of violence and illegal gun possession, imploring the government to intensify checks on illegal firearms. 

“The gravity of violence and the heightened risk posed by illegal gun possession cannot be overstated. Stringent measures must be implemented to regulate gun use and prohibit illegal and unregulated firearm possession,” he stated. 

According to the National Police report, the individual in question had used a pistol with a magazine containing eight bullets. 

Article 4 of the Law on the Management of Weapons, Explosives and Ammunition, enacted on June 1, 2005, strictly prohibits civilians in the Kingdom from engaging in activities related to weapons and explosives, including their possession, use and trade. 

In January, Prime Minister Hun Manet instructed the police to halt all private shooting ranges nationwide to prevent potential problems. 

He stated that such businesses were unnecessary, while emphasising the need for stringent technical inspections at existing ranges. 

“Opening private gun clubs entails the right to acquire firearms and ammunition. Where would they obtain these and where would they be stored? There is no need for such establishments,” Manet added.