A Cambodian rights group said Wednesday that impunity is on the rise in Cambodia, hitting out at the authorities for failing to resolve a number of high-profile killings and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Ahead of International Day to End Impunity on Saturday, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) highlighted murders of human rights activists and journalists which it says are never investigated, to cases where security forces that have beaten civilians go unpunished, to several well-connected officials that have evaded justice despite being convicted.
“Rampant” impunity is hindering the development of democracy and human rights in the country, the CCHR said in a statement.
CCHR Cambodia Freedom of Expression Project Coordinator Sorn Ramana called on Cambodia’s government to conduct immediate investigations into cases of human rights violations and to ensure that the judiciary is independent, impartial and effective.
“Perpetrators and bad people commit crimes arbitrarily, and they are not afraid of any laws. They are not afraid of being prosecuted,” she told RFA’s Khmer Service.
“The impunity is making innocent people into victims,” she said.
Authorities have not yet responded to the CCHR statement, which comes after rights groups accused authorities of failing to hold police responsible for shootings last week that killed one person and left others injured in a clampdown on a demonstration by factory strikers in Phnom Penh.
CCHR highlighted eight cases as examples of the rampant impunity in Cambodia, including the unsolved 2004 murder of outspoken labor activist Chea Vichea and the “botched” investigation into the murder of environmental rights activist Chut Wutty who was shot dead in April last year while investigating illegal logging claims.
“Perpetrators of crimes often go unpunished and victims of these crimes never see justice,” CCHR’s statement said.
“More often than not, those who evade justice are well-connected individuals who are targeting those very people fighting for justice and human rights in Cambodia.”