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Kampot plagued by human rights abuses

Kampot plagued by human rights abuses

KAMPOT - Human rights organization Vigilance claims it has proof of systematic

and widespread abuses and corruption in Kampot, involving police, the judiciary,

in some cases the military - and even the local hospital.

Vigilance

director BK San said other human rights groups were afraid to speak out but,

after just nine months work, he feels he must "or they will step all over

us."

BK San showed the Post files of witnesses' statements, involving

extortion, robberies, corruption and at least one incident that amounted to a

summary execution.

On Dec 27 a gang of eight policemen went to the house

of a suspected robber, Yos Sokean, 23, and asked him to talk to the "big shot"

away from the house. Sokean refused for fear of being killed.

His

month-in-law went instead. When she did not come back, Sokean and his

16-year-old pregnant wife went looking for her, six independent statements

claim.

The police gang set upon Sokean, kicking him and shooting into the

air. The two women shielded him but he pushed them away, only to be shot in the

side.

The statements claim the women urged Sokean to run, which he did,

only to be shot in the head and killed.

BK San said it was only when he

was alerted some hours later and he arrived to take pictures of Sokean that

police allowed the family to move the body.

BK San said after he "pushed

and pushed, all the way to Phnom Penh", police arrested the gang header, Chick

Sotear, but to his know ledge Chick is being held in the police compound at the

prison and can "come and go as he pleases."

In another case, BK San said

he was getting a Kep military security chief, former KR commander Chhouk Rin, to

investigate the case of a soldier who put an AK47 to the head of a Vietnamese

trader, stealing 13.5 million dong.

The trader, Yung An, arrived in Kep

from a Vietnamese island to buy supplies when he was robbed. BK San said the

military covered the incident long enough for the soldier to escape.

He

also claims proof of police bribing and threatening people to give false

testimony - most recently against two policemen "who were hated by other police"

in an alleged robbery of a motorbike.

In a third case an off-duty

policemen hit an 11-year-old boy in the back of the knee with a hammer,

crippling him. BK San said that police promptly arrested the attacker "because

it was so bad they considered him no longer a policemen."

However, while

police acted promptly in this case, BK San had to pay 60,000 reil to persuade

hospital officials to sign the necessary certificates and buy X-ray film before

the boy would be treated.

"Extortion in the hospital depends on whether

you are rich or poor. If you are poor you must pay, if you are rich and powerful

it costs you nothing," he said.

BK San said that he also had evidence of

corruption within the courts, whereby convicts could pay to be immediately

released. The verdicts on many civil cases were solely dependent on which party

paid the most on bribe, he said.

"The courts, the judge, the prisons, the

police, the hospital.... it doesn't stop. Officials from the provincial

government told me not to throw eggs at the rock," he said.

"I am alone

here. I am spending all my own money, but I believe with help we can change

things here," he said.

"People are coming in to me now, kneeling at the

door. I cannot, refuse them, I am getting up to 15, 20 cases a month."

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