A group of opposition lawmakers has requested the Ministry of Interior stop Phnom Penh authorities from employing anonymous and “illegal security forces” in the wake of violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters.
The letter, submitted last week but posted to CNRP lawmaker Mu Sochua’s Facebook page yesterday, also called on the head of the notorious Daun Penh district security guards, Cheam Ratha, to be punished, alleging he led the security forces that beat up five people on World Habitat Day on October 10. “Security work is the work of the National Police. They don’t use National Police. [These security forces] are hired to beat people,” Sochua said.
The letter said that since 2013, there had been a trend of Phnom Penh authorities employing security forces, who escaped accountability through anonymity, “to violently crack down by using batons and slingshots on peaceful gatherings”.
The Daun Penh guards in particular became fixtures of the 2013 post-election period, during which time they were repeatedly deployed to violently disperse peaceful protests.
Daun Penh district governor Kouch Chamroeun yesterday maintained the extra-judicial security forces hired by the district were legal, but did not elaborate on why they wore different uniforms from forces employed by the Interior Ministry and were difficult to identify.
Am Sam Ath, a technical adviser for the rights group Licadho who was injured in the October 10 brawl, yesterday said some security forces overstepped their role. “Security forces are created by the Ministry of Interior to protect people’s safety, not to kick protesters,” he said.
A Ministry of Interior spokesman could not be reached.