Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN representatives call for investigation into prison death

UN representatives call for investigation into prison death

UN representatives call for investigation into prison death

The family of Heng Touch maintains that the 24-year-old was fatally

beaten by prison guards while detained on charges he stole a chicken

VIOLATION OF RIGHTS

Principle 34 of the United Nations' Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment of 1988 requires the death of an imprisoned person during detention to be investigated by a "judicial or other authority".

UN representatives have urged the government to conduct a full investigation into the death of a 24-year-old man who died last week as a result of head injuries sustained while he was detained at Prey Sar prison.

The victim's family says that prison officials savagely beat  their son, Heng Touch, leading to his death.

"We have written to the Ministry of Interior to recommend a credible investigation," said Christophe Peschoux, director  of the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for  Human Rights.

"A death in prison is a very serious issue that should be treated with professionalism and humanity by prison authorities, especially when there are allegations of ill-treatment," he told the Post via email Wednesday.

Heng Touch was imprisoned in September on charges of robbery.

Torture an ‘exaggeration'  

Mong Kim Heng, director of Prey Sar prison, denied that prison officials tortured Heng Touch, calling the allegations "an exaggeration".

"I deny every allegation that Heng Touch was tortured by prison officials. It is an exaggeration and an allegation without a proper legal basis," he told the Post Wednesday.

"His death was caused by him attempting to commit suicide by hitting his head on a wall. We sent him to the hospital to try to save his life, but he died there," he said.

An Sam Ath, a monitoring supervisor for the rights group Licadho, said that they were preparing to meet with government officials over the matter.

I deny every allegation that heng touch was tortured by prison officials.

"Licadho, Adhoc and the UN are meeting to urge the Ministry of Interior and Department of Prisons to find out the real cause of Heng Touch's death," he said.
"We don't know yet the real reason of Heng Touch's death. If we find out his death was caused by torture, we will ask the authorities to penalise the perpetrators," he added.

Heng Touch's uncle, Chheng Ka, told the Post that denials  by prison officials were not credible.

"I don't believe prison officials who have said that my nephew tried to commit suicide by hitting his head on the wall," he said.

"I will lodge complaints to several  institutions, including ... Prime Minister Hun Sen to inform him about the torture that led to my nephew's death."

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak declined to comment on the matter Wednesday. 

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,