Villagers found the beaten body of a 20-year-old woman at a banana plantation in Ratanakkiri province on Sunday, the fourth murder of a young woman in the past five months in Cambodia's rural northeastern province.
No arrests have been made in two of the deaths, an issue that concerns officials of the rights group Adhoc.
Police said villagers found the body of Ren Senghorng, a rubber plantation worker, near the farmhouse where she lived on a banana plantation in O'Yadav district's Yatung commune.
Senghorng had been beaten on her face and neck, and may have been raped, according to O'Yadav district deputy police chief Ngorn Dorn.
"In regards to suspects, since this is under the investigation process, we can’t give any identity of the suspect yet,’’ he said.
In October, an 18-year-old Tampuon high school student and indigenous activist was found raped and strangled at a Lumphat district cassava farm. In February, Banlung town police found the body of another 18-year-old Kroeung student who also appeared to have been raped and killed.
Later that month, a 15-year-old Tampoun girl was killed at Bakeo district cashew farm, although authorities said she did not appear to have been raped.
Chhan Sokunthea, who oversees the women's and children's rights section of Adhoc, called on authorities to speed up the court system.
“The process is very slow,” she said, noting that the court has yet to begin the trial of a suspect arrested in the October case. “From October until now, there is no hearing – it takes a long time and the victim’s family is waiting still.”
She also pushed the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to take a more active role in supporting victims and their families.
Ministry of Women’s Affairs spokesman The Chhunhak could not be reached yesterday.
Din Khanny, an Adhoc officer stationed in Banlung town, described the murders as “evil and awful.” He also called on authorities to find and punish the killers or risk sending a message that perpetrators can get away with murder.
“That is the authority’s responsibility to make sure that the suspects will not get impunity,” he said.
Additional reporting by Daphne Chen