Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Govt mulls torture watchdog

Govt mulls torture watchdog

Govt mulls torture watchdog

Proposed body to bring Cambodia in line with UN agreements

THE Ministry of Interior and UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) held a workshop last week to study in detail requirements for the establishment of a government body to implement the UN Convention Against Torture.

"We believe that torture is still a common crime ... occurring in prisons against those accused of doing something wrong," said  Jason Barber, consultant to rights group Licadho, commenting on the proposed initiative.

According to Barber, torture is still commonly used by police to extract confessions from suspects.

The proposed subdecree would create a temporary body pending the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) that is consistent with the UN's Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), a legislative process that UN and government officials expect to take up to two years.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, told the Post that the problem of torture had improved in some respects but that it was still a "bad habit" in the police force.

He added that the proposed NPM could help to reduce instances of torture in the country, but only if it is independent and respects the spirit of existing international agreements.

"I think that the NPM will improve the investigation process where it is respected," he said.

"But I remain concerned about individual police officers, who still do not understand the principles of OPCAT."

However, Som Kol Sokun, director of the Prison Department at the Ministry of Interior, who participated in the workshop last week, has denied torture allegations.

"There is no torture in prisons, we have received no information," he told the Post last week. 

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

    After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do

  • Police warn boycott FB group involved in the “Clean Fingers Campaign”

    Police said on Tuesday that they will pick up members of a Facebook group involved in the “Clean Fingers Campaign” that promotes a boycott of next month’s national elections. However, police merely planned to “educate” the group for now, but warned that if the

  • Ranariddh 'seriously injured', his wife dies in accident in Preah Sihanouk

    THE wife of former first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh has died. Ouk Phalla succumbed to injuries sustained in a traffic accident on National Road 4 in Preah Sihanouk’s Prey Nub district this morning. She and the prince were immediately rushed to the Preah Sihanouk