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.
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
BK San showed the Post files of witnesses' statements, involving
extortion, robberies, corruption and at least one incident that amounted to a
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.
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
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
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.
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."
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."