Violent land evictions, unlawful prison sentences, shooting deaths and crackdowns on peaceful protests are all on a list of allegations a human rights group is voicing concerns about this week.
The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee condemned the incidents in a statement released on Tuesday, calling on the government to conduct investigations and asking that protests aren’t met with force.
“The committee has concerns over land disputes, as the government uses armed forces to protect private interests rather than that of the villagers. We would like to appeal to the government to stop using violence to quell peaceful demonstrations,” the statement reads.
CHRAC specifically condemned what it said were armed forces defending the interests of companies without implementing effective legal procedures.
It also accused the courts of holding unfair trials and passing down draconian sentences, citing the case of the 13 Boeung Kak villagers who on May 24 were given two and half years each after being arrested at a non-violent protest.
Highlighted incidents in the statement include the May 16 shooting death of 14-year-old girl Heng Chantha in Kratie province, when a coalition of armed forces carried out an eviction order, and the April 26 slaying of environmentalist Chut Wutty, who was gunned down while attempting to document illegal logging.
Sok Sam Oeun, the executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said that these cases and others worried human rights workers.
“I asked the court to work independently and to find justice for victims,” he said.
National police spokesman Kiet Chantharith said that police must enforce the law if villagers break the law, but added that police never use violence against them.
“Our police are so perfect that some police were wounded in heads because of the throngs of demonstrators,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]