C hhouk District, Kampot - Villagers in Tuol village have left their homes - some
reportedly having gone to Khmer Rouge-held "havens" - to escape from persecution
and extortion by local military and police forces, say rights
UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia,
Justice Michael Kirby, visited the province on August 6 and was briefed on local
human rights abuses, most apparently carried out by police and
In addition to villagers who had relatives with the KR electing
to move to KR areas, the Post learned that Kirby heard of four cases of unsolved
murders, and other abuses.
When asked about the situation, Kirby did not
comment other than to say: "You can not look at human rights issues from the
Cambodiana [hotel], you have to go out to provinces. That's what I'm doing in
A report made by a human rights group says that at the end of
April, Khmer Rouge guerrillas raided L'Boeuk commune and burned eight buildings,
including three houses belonging to local army and police.
later, armed authorities took revenge by burning houses of villagers, whose
relatives serve in the KR army.
The same report cited several witnesses,
whose names are withheld for security reasons, who quoted a local policeman as
telling them "I burn these houses in revenge because the KR burned
A human rights worker who is familiar with the case described the
retaliation as "angry at the oxen, beating the cart".
The worker said
that the policeman and his entourage harassed the villagers with gunfire when
they tried to put out the house fires.
The policemen began "arresting,
torturing, and extorting money" from the villagers and threatened to kill them
if they dared to reveal the dirty affairs, the worker said.
villagers already abandoned their homes and fled to KR areas," the rights worker
"It appeared that they are afraid of the KR less than they are
afraid of being punished and prosecuted by rogue soldiers and police," said the
worker, who requested anonymity.
The worker described the situation of
human rights abuses in the province as "very serious" and said that, to some
extent, the authorities appeared reluctant to solve cases which involve elements
of the government security forces.
But, the worker added, for cases
involving disputes between civilians, authorities were eager to "hastily get
"We try to do our best to convey the message but we can do
no more unless the authorities pay serious attention," the worker said, with
The following cases of abuses were brought to
•Murder. Victim Chheong Khan, murdered at Noreay mountain,
Chhouk district on Sep 23, 1994. He reportedly tried asking for seven chi of
gold (about $315) that he had previously lent a policeman. He was seen by
witnesses being driven away in a police car and his body was later found with
•Murder. Victim Ly Hor, killed on a road in Phum Thom Kanglech, Kampong Trach
district on Nov 15, 1994. Hor was being chased on his bike by two men, one in
military uniform. A villager reported that he saw the men shoot Hor three times.
No motive was reported.
•Attempted murder, sexual harassment and robbery in K'jeay Khang T'bong
village, Dang Tung district, on Jan 13, 1995. Victims were cigarette sellers Ouk
Ran and his sister Ouk Saran. The pair were stopped at night by six policemen,
two of whom shot and wounded Saran when she tried fleeing from the group, who
were talking about raping her. Ran fled, while the police stole a ring and
60,000 riels from the wounded girl.
•Murder. Victim Lok Vop was shot dead while sitting in a house by a
militiaman in Trapaong Kak village, Kampot district, on March 7, 1995. The
murderer was angry that his house had been burned by the KR, and he knew that
Lok Vop's son was a KR guerrilla. Vop's house was also burned.
•Murder. A man named Mao was killed in Chak Chrum village, Angkor Chey
district on July 3, 1995. Alleged murderers: the village's deputy, a policeman,
and another villager; the motive was unclear.
Another human rights
advocate said that these cases had been brought to the knowledge of provincial
authorities. However, no charges have been made against the culprits.
advocate said that recently the provincial authorities had started to use
Article 51 of the Statute of Civil Servants adopted by the National Assembly
last year as an excuse in delaying legal charges.
According to Article
51, the human rights advocate said, charges against defendants who were
government employees could be made only if they were caught red-handed,
otherwise an arrest warrant had to be obtained by ministerial
"Article 51 makes a very good excuse for them", the advocate
said of the provincial prosecutors.
"They say they are independent, but
they also say they cannot derail from the Article 51. They said they were
waiting for instruction from concerned ministries before they can take any
action," the advocate said.
The provincial court could not be reached
for comment, while Police Commissioner Sek Sokun refused to comment.