The 2009 Human Rights Report noted ongoing concerns with the country’s “harsh” prison system, where inmates face squalid, cramped living conditions. Monitors said government rations for prisoners’ food were routinely “misappropriated and inadequate, exacerbating malnutrition and disease”. The report also laments a “weak” judicial system in which corruption is widespread. “Government officials or members of their families who committed crimes often enjoyed impunity,” the report stated.
Arbitrary arrests and detention continued despite being explicitly outlawed, the report stated. The rights group Adhoc counted at least 103 such cases. The report noted the controversial trial last December of a little-known herbal medication, Bong Sen, developed in Vietnam, on drug users. Participants released after the trial reported that they had resumed using drugs within days. The report noted that systematic, arbitrary arrests of sex workers, homeless people and drug users had continued.
Forced evictions continued in 2009, according to the report. “Cases of inhabitants being forced to relocate continued to occur when officials or business persons colluded with local authorities,” the report stated. Adhoc reported 186 land-related cases during the year, while another NGO reported 115 cases involving more than 8,800 families. The report highlighted last January’s eviction of Phnom Penh’s Dey Krahorm community (shown above), the site of which is being developed by a private company.
CAMBODIAN officials said Sunday that the country’s track record on human rights was improving, after a US State Department report released last week pointed to evidence of extrajudicial killings, a weak judicial system and limitations on freedom of speech in supporting its conclusion that the Kingdom’s rights record last year remained “poor”.
“The human rights situation in Cambodia is moving forward, not backward,” Cheam Yeap, a senior lawmaker with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said Sunday in response to the 2009 Human Rights Report. “No country is 100 percent perfect with human rights, even the US itself. But in Cambodia we see the situation has improved.”