Interior Minister Sar Kheng has ordered a probe into sexual harassment allegations filed by four policewomen from the Kampong Thom police force. He is also a deputy prime minister.
The women accused Kampong Thom provincial police chief Ouk Kosal of harassing them.
Commissioner-General of the National Police Neth Savoeun has been ordered to urgently investigate the matter. Ministry secretary of state Chan Aan and Kampong Thom provincial governor Sok Lou are also looking into the matter.
“I cannot decide about this case yet as we have to wait for experts to look into it first,” Sar Kheng said on Tuesday.
It’s not the first time Kosal’s actions have put him on Sar Kheng’s radar.
Sar Kheng issued warning letters in March to the police chief regarding how he was careless in leading and managing his forces. He threatened to remove him from his position.
A letter with the four fingerprints of the female police officers was sent to Sar Kheng and released on July 30. It said Kosal engaged in misconduct since 2018, but they dared not protest as they were threatened. They also feared it would affect their family lives.
“We have complained about him in the past, but we did not get justice. We have no other way besides requesting help from Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng. [Kosal] committed the acts. He is the boss and we are weak,” the officers wrote.
Kampong Thom provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that experts from the Ministry of Interior and the National Police Commissioner-General’s office are working on the case.
“Please let experts work first. I cannot make assumptions before an investigation,” said Lou.
Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) executive director Chak Sopheap said to tackle the issue of harassment against women, all offenders have to be punished according to the law regardless of position.
Removing the culture of impunity will ensure ethical values, dignity and order in society, she said.
“It is not about restricting women’s clothes but addressing the root causes of sexual harassment. I hope all who claim to support women’s dignity will take part in providing justice to them,” she said.