The Ministry of Interior is preparing an investigation of a non-governmental organization in Preah Vihear province that is associated with the head of the Senate and stands accused of serious human rights abuses, officials said Monday.
Hundreds of families worked with agencies in the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee to file complaints Friday against the Drug and AIDS Rehabilitation Center, which operates nearly 100 kilometers from Preah Vihear town.
The center is run by a man named Pen Lim, who is known to villagers as Sar Chhuon Lim and is a powerful businessman and adviser to Chea Sim, who is the head of the Senate and president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party.
“After receiving the complaints, the Ministry of Interior has organized specialists to investigate the case, but we cannot immediately get results,” the ministry's spokesman, Khieu Sopheak, said Monday.
The Human Rights Action Committee said Monday Pen Lim had taken a land concession for 556 hectares to redistribute to impoverished villagers. Instead, the group alleges, he sold it to them and seized land from another 57 families living nearby.
Villagers say they were either threatened at gunpoint, beaten or had their land stolen by the organization.
Ny Chakrya, chief investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said the Interior Ministry had the right to punish or close the organization.
Pen Lim told VOA Khmer on Monday he was “unconcerned” about the allegations.
“We will see the result of the investigation,” he said.