Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Death penalty not the answer



Death penalty not the answer

Death penalty not the answer

The Editor,

This is my reaction (opinion) to First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh's proposed amendment to the constitution

concerning capital punishment.

I have met and worked briefly with Prince Ranariddh on two occasions during my tenure as an instructor at the University

of Fine Arts, Faculty of Architecture in 1993-94. I have nothing but high marks for His Highness' remarkable two-year

duties as a Prime Minister in difficult situations in Cambodia. However, I and others are questioning the logic

or reasoning behind the need for capital punishment in small nation such as Cambodia. Is it really necessary? Is

it the right time or place? I and many others do not think so.

Cambodia has just woken up from a nightmare where her population (estimated at under 10 million) has hardly increased

in the last 25 years. The social, political, economic, and environmental standard has not yet reached an adequate

level to handle policy that may or may not be necessary or beneficial to the people in the Kingdom. Although capital

punishment is a well-known practice in many developed nations, such as the United States where her population is

about 26 times bigger than Cambodia's, many people have questioned its necessity and benefit.

A small nation with a tiny population like Cambodia can't possibly afford to lose any more of her people. It is

not logical to destroy any more Khmers' lives, even if they belong to hard-core criminals. What Cambodia needs

is a solid justice system so that all people, such as Dr Gavin Scott, the infamous "Balloon six," and

others don't rot in jail for 3 months, 3 weeks, or not even for 3 days without a trial. Being in jail or prison

without a trial is bad enough, but the idea that one may end up getting the death penalty by state law as well

should be horrific for anyone. Will that deter criminals from continuing with their activities? There hasn't been

a strong record or statistic of that yet. What Cambodia also needs in place of capital punishment is a strong incarceration

and rehabilitation system (not necessarily the same standard as in developed nations) to handle hard-core criminals

such as murderers. All criminals, regardless, have to earn their daily meals and other expenses by doing much needed

public service, in chain and under armed guards of course. In addition, they have to serve their sentence in full.

Their economic standing (rich or poor) should not be a factor as it might have been in the past where those with

money or influence get out on the street a lot sooner. With such systems in place, Cambodia certainly doesn't need

capital punishment like other "civilized" nations on earth, who have plenty of hard-core criminals to

spare.

Let's look at it this way: if capital punishment is amended in the constitution, it could lead to abuse by those

who are in power. It is open wide to interpretation. For instance, a political dissident such as the former MP,

Mr Sam Rainsy, could be labeled a "traitor" and may well get the death penalty, imagine that! What about

the ten of thousands of Khmer Rouge? Yes, we must not forget the KR. Shouldn't they all get death penalty too?

Most of them, if not all, are serial killers and some of them are currently serving in the Royal Government. There

is no statue of limitation for murder, especially in cold blood. They killed most of my family, hundreds of my

neighbors, and millions other innocent Khmers throughout Cambodia in cold blood. Now, shouldn't they all be qualified

for a "FREE" death penalty too? Despite earning a reputation as one of the world's "most efficient

killing machines" in the past two decades, I think that Khmers are still too civilized, too decent, and too

wise to have-state sponsored execution.

With all do respect, I certainly hope that His Highness First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh reconsiders

the decision that has been made, perhaps without considering the consequences. It is neither the right time nor

it is the right place to have such a policy. It is absolutely not needed, unless His Highness wishes to eradicate

the Khmer as a race.
- Ronnie Yimsut, A very concerned native Khmer, Oregon, USA

(Prince Ranariddh has already said he will abide by the wishes of King Norodom Sihanouk, who has publicly opposed

the introduction of the death penalty - Ed.)

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting