THE continued shootings of Cambodian loggers, allegedly at the hands of Thai soldiers, constitute a breach of international law and human rights, Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong charged Wednesday.
Speaking with reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport, Hor Namhong said Thai soldiers should respect international law when dealing with illegal loggers.
“If Cambodian people do something wrong, [Thai authorities] can punish them by using international law and the principle of human rights,” Hor Namhong said before departing to attend a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Vietnam. “We have sent them many diplomatic notes.”
The foreign affairs minister’s comments came two days after Thai soldiers allegedly shot and killed two Cambodian loggers near the border with Oddar Meanchey province.
... the number of people killed has increased.
On Wednesday, seven Cambodians who had been missing following that incident returned home, officials said.
“All the missing Cambodian loggers were safely returned,” said Keo Tan, the police chief in Trapaing Prasat district.
Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanyagorn said he had no official details of the incident. But he said all border issues should be discussed during Joint Border Committee meetings.
“Our position is clear: We would like to work with Cambodia at the committee level to resolve border issues,” he said by phone from Bangkok.
Figures from local rights group Adhoc suggest that shootings of illegal loggers along the disputed border area have spiked in the last year.
Nine villagers were killed in 2009 and three in the early days of 2010 after they entered Thailand illegally, said Srey Naren, Adhoc’s coordinator in Oddar Meanchey. “Since 2002, there have been only one or two cases per year of Cambodians being shot,” Srey Naren said.
“But since the dispute along the border has flared, the number of people killed has increased.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO