Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sim’s KR role scrutinised



Sim’s KR role scrutinised

CPP lawmaker Say Chhum casts his vote for the Senate president ballot at the Senate building in Phnom Penh
CPP lawmaker Say Chhum casts his vote for the Senate president ballot at the Senate building in Phnom Penh. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Sim’s KR role scrutinised

As lawmakers yesterday paid their respects and chose a successor to former Senate president Chea Sim, who died on Monday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for renewed efforts to try former Khmer Rouge leaders, saying it was “a mockery of justice” that the 82-year-old had avoided prosecution for “serious crimes”.

In a statement released less than a day after the death of the Cambodian People’s Party president and former Khmer Rouge cadre, HRW accused Sim of “serious international crimes” during the Khmer Rouge years and alleged “possible genocide” and “crimes against humanity” were committed by Sim while he was secretary of Ponhea Krek district in Democratic Kampuchea’s Eastern Zone.

“Chea Sim’s passing is a reminder that virtually all former Khmer Rouge officials have gone unpunished for the millions of deaths and incredible suffering of ordinary Cambodians during Khmer Rouge rule,” HRW Asia director Brad Adams said.

“It is a mockery of justice that Chea Sim could serve in the post-Khmer Rouge Cambodian leadership for decades without ever facing an investigation, much less arrest or prosecution.”

According to 2005 HRW research, which was passed to the Khmer Rouge tribunal in 2006, Sim oversaw a security centre in the region and exercised authority over commune militia who arrested, tortured, killed and “enslaved” the population.

Among those targeted, says HRW, were former Lon Nol regime officials, members of Cambodia’s pre-revolutionary upper classes, fellow Khmer Rouge cadre suspected of political dissent and members of the Vietnamese, Cham and Chinese ethnic groups.

HRW blamed political control exercised over the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) by Hun Sen, also a former Khmer Rouge cadre, for the evidence against Sim not being seriously pursued.

They added that the prime minister’s influence had “stymied” the prosecution of other former cadres in who held similar positions of responsibility as Sim.

So far only three former Khmer Rouge leaders have been convicted for crimes during the Democratic Kampuchea regime including S-21 jailer Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea and head of state Khieu Samphan.

Hun Sen has long rejected calls to increase the scope of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, suggesting that it could trigger a civil war.

President of the National Assembly Heng Samrin attends Chea Sim’s funeral in Phnom Penh.
President of the National Assembly Heng Samrin attends Chea Sim’s funeral in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Sim, together with National Assembly President Heng Samrin, was among six senior government officials who ignored summonses to give evidence in the court’s Case 002/01.

Speaking yesterday, Documentation Centre of Cambodia director Youk Chhang said the allegations against Sim were not new and the decision of the ECCC had to be respected.

“What he did is no secret, it’s been published by scholars in the ’80s. We have to respect the judge’s decision and also expect the judge to follow the rules on the evidence they are holding,” he said.

HRW’s Adams also took aim at Sim’s legacy in law enforcement.

As a member of the Vietnamese-installed government in the 1980s, Sim helped establish a security apparatus which brutally repressed opposition, extracted confessions from torture and sometimes held prisoners indefinitely, often in “dark cells” that were isolated from the world, according to HRW.

“Chea Sim was best known among Cambodians for running the police state in the 1980s that imprisoned and tortured people for peaceful political activities,” Adams said.

“His legacy continues to this day, with unreformed security forces run for the interests of the ruling party instead of the public good.”

Meanwhile, at the Senate yesterday, 52 of 61 senators voted the CPP’s Say Chhum, former Senate deputy, to replace Sim as head of the body, with Nay Pana voted as his deputy.

Although Hun Sen announced in April that he would take over from Sim as CPP president, party spokesman Sok Ey San yesterday declined to reveal when the standing committee would officially appoint a successor.

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,

  • More than 540 deported in first nine months

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) deported 542 foreigners in the first nine months of this year for various offences. GDI spokesman Keo Vanthan said the deportees were a mix of 40 nationalities, most of them Chinese. Since 2014, he said the GDI had