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Youth Offered EdC Job After Brother's Death

The older brother of a young boy killed in a construction accident on a work site of Electricite du Cambodge last week has been promised a job by the company and the family compensated with $1,500.

Men Chanpong, 13, was buried alive Friday night by an EdC bulldozer in Lor Kambor village, Svay Pak commune, Russei Keo district, where villagers say he was working part time.

EdC has denied employing the boy, but paid compensation to his father and promised a job to Men Chanthy, the 23-year-old brother of the boy.

Rights and union officials said such compensation, common in Cambodia, perpetuated a system of impunity and weakened the rule of law.

“They gave my son a job in the company, but I don’t know what it is because I just got a call this morning to get an application,” Men Chanseng, 47-year-old father of the boy, said Tuesday.

Men Chanseng himself is a construction worker. He would not confirm whether his son worked for EdC, but he confirmed receiving compensation from the company.

Chea Sunhel, director of EdC’s supply department, denied the boy worked for the company and said Tuesday EdC was giving Men Chanthy a job in addition to compensation because the family was poor.

“He might work as a security guard or, if he is literate, he can record meter readings,” Chea Sunhel said. “It depends on his abilities.”

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation Union, said such compensation was not worth the life of a child.

“It is not fair, because if the company keeps paying just $1,000 or $2,000 for the family of the deceased, and there is nothing happening to it, that means impunity in Cambodia is still high,” he said.

In Cambodia a habit exists where a perpetrator of a crime pays compensation to a family in order to avoid the courts, which themselves are widely criticized as corrupt and politically biased.

Ny Chakrya, a rights investigator for Adhoc, said if the legal system cannot punish perpetrators, Cambodia cannot meet the rule of law.

“If impunity continues, none of the cases will be involved with the people. They will not file in court, they will not cooperate and they will not join in legal reform to strengthen the rule of law in Cambodia. So the legal system here will become weaker and weaker.”