Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Private armies a threat

Private armies a threat

Private armies a threat

Dear Editor,

I write to outline my serious concerns arising from an article published recently in The Phnom Penh Post on the involvement of police and military police in a land conflict in Stung Trang district, Kampong Cham (‘Police employ guns and batons to drive villagers from disputed land’, August 10).

Stung Trang district deputy police chief Chear Thearirth confirmed that a private company involved in the land conflict with local villagers “hired” police and military police to intervene to clear the impugned land, leading to clashes with villagers and injuries to two elderly women and a young man.

This incident reflects a dangerous trend in Cambodia, whereby police and armed forces are increasingly working in the interests and under the apparent direction of private individuals and businesses.

On February 22, the Post published a leaked Royal Government of Cambodia document, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, which lists individual units of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces together with private individuals or companies that are reported to be providing donations to those units. Since the publication of that document, a land dispute in Omlaing commune, Kampong Speu, between villagers and a company owned by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat, has highlighted the likely results of these donations. Battalion 313, which according to the leaked document is funded by Ly Yong Phat, violently intervened on behalf of his company to clear the impugned land.

The growing trend of private control over the police and armed forces poses a very serious threat to stability in Cambodia. The creation of bands of armed men answerable to powerful individuals or companies raises the spectre of violent clashes between different groups operating in defence or furtherance of conflicting private interests.

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights urges the RGC to intervene immediately and publicly to stop the dangerous co-opting of the police and armed forces by private individuals and businesses, and to curb the serious threat to stability that is posed by such practices.

Ou Virak, President

Cambodian Center for Human Rights

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO?Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length. The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

MOST VIEWED

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said