T WO documented cases where human right groups say innocent people have been
"shaken down" and jailed for being "Khmer Rouge" have turned the spotlight back
on the controversial KR outlaw bill.
Human rights activists say it is yet
too early to draw a pattern from the cases, though they are monitoring such
Human rights workers say that provincial police and
judiciary do not have copies of the KR outlaw bill and therefore could not know
how to use it properly.
"Extorting money from people whom (police) accuse
of being KR has gone on for a long time in Cambodia," said one human rights
"Because of the passage of this bill there should be a greater
obligation on the government's behalf not to have this law abused."
it is typical for alleged KR members to be held at police stations, rather than
in prisons. The number of KR "suspects" now being held is unknown.
human rights report details how two suspected Khmer Rouge, Koeng Sara, 38, and
Seth Peth, 34, had confessions beaten out of them before being sentenced to 25
years apiece in Battambang jail.
In July, the pair were transporting
goods from Poipet to Phnom Penh when they were arrested without warrants,
accused of laying mines that killed one and injured 13 others, the report
After being held for seven months they were charged with murder,
unlawful possession of weapons and being part of the Khmer Rouge.
report says there were no eyewitnesses nor material evidence against the pair.
Their defense was not allowed to ask questions or read the police
Sara and Peth testified they were tortured. Peth said he was
stripped, his arms tied and kicked while being asked if he would still continue
"A gun was pointed at his head and... he was beaten on the head
with a gun," the report said.
Told that if he did not say "the correct
things" in court or he would be killed, Peth signed the demanded confession, the
A defense witness, a nurse, testified that Sara was
suffering from malaria and could not move at the time he was said to have laid
In a second recorded incident, in Kompong Speu, police
unlawfully arrested 11 "KR supporters" and immediately freed nine of them after
they paid fines ranging from 36,000 riel ($14) to 200,000 riel ($80).
accused farmers, Dol Kann, 51, and Jun Aem, 47, both had their confessions
beaten out of them by police, according to a second report.
relatives paid 125,000 riel ($50) and a cow to release him, but to date both
Kann and Aem remain in police custody in New Oral district.
outlawing the KR attracted fierce debate when it was passed in July last year,
and a group of MPs rallied against it because they were concerned it could be
At the time, Justice Minister Chem Snguon guaranteed that no
person would be charged with being Khmer Rouge without sufficient evidence.