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HRC says Cambodia must quash impunity, excessive force

Concerned no one held accountable for killings, allegedly mainly perpetrated by army, police, gendarmerie

02.04.2015
HRC says Cambodia must quash impunity, excessive force

By Lauren Crothers

PHNOM PENH

 The Geneva-based Human Rights Committee (HRC) called on Cambodia Thursday to step up efforts to curb impunity and fully investigate incidents where excessive force was used against civilians.

In concluding observations following hearings on Cambodia’s human rights record last month, it acknowledged the passage of a series of laws on human trafficking, disability and domestic violence, and said the Southeast Asian country's second periodic update to the committee had been handed in 10 years late.

The committee, which is made up of 18 independent human rights experts, is tasked with monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by countries that have ratified it.

One of the primary concerns raised in the feedback relates to a perceived failure by the Cambodian government to ensure that judges and prosecutors around the country are fully versed in the language of the ICCPR, meaning that only a handful of cases that go before the courts uphold the standards and peoples’ rights.

Another pertains to the number of extrajudicial killings that have taken place in Cambodia for more than two decades. 

The experts said they are concerned that no one has been held accountable for the killings, allegedly mainly perpetrated by the army, police and gendarmerie, in Cambodia since the 1991 Paris Agreements” were signed.

Linked to this is the raft of three separate shootings committed by state forces from Sept. 2013 to Jan. 2014, during which seven civilians were killed, and for which no one has been held accountable at any level among the authorities.

“The State party should investigate all allegations relating to the excessive use of force, especially the use of lethal force, by police and military personnel, and ensure that the perpetrators are prosecuted and the victims adequately compensated,” the HRC said, adding that training needs to be provided to state forces in order to prevent further such incidents from happening.

Other issues in the eight-page document included calls for Cambodia to respect and protect the rights of its minority citizens, which would include Cham Muslims and indigenous tribal people, who are often vulnerable in terms of retaining their land rights.

In addition, two recently passed laws on the conduct of elections and the election management body were welcomed, but the committee decried a lack of transparency in their being drafted.

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