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Opposition Calls for Probe Into Sex Worker’s Death


FILE: Mu Sochua, CNRP lawmaker, discusses challenges in voter registration for migrated workers, during monthly Hello VOA call-in show, in Phnom Penh, on Thursday, September 22, 2016. (Lim Sothy/ VOA Khmer)

The opposition MPs called on the government to file a lawsuit against the guards involved in the incident and establish a cross-party commission to investigate the death. However, Khieu Sopheak, interior ministry spokesman, said that “If we set up an impartial committee following every death, the nation would become a mess.”

Opposition lawmakers have requested an official parliamentary inquiry be launched into the death of a sex worker who drowned in the Tonle Sap river while being chased by district security forces earlier this month.

The MPs wrote to senior member of the ruling party, including National Assembly President Heng Samrin, Sar Kheang, the interior minister, and Ang Vong Vathana, the justice minister, on January 24.

In the letters the lawmakers alleged that 33-year-old sex worker Pen Sokunthea “was killed when she tried to escape from being chased by Daun Penh District security guards who intended to arrest prostitutes in the Tonle Sap area” on January 1.

Eyewitnesses said the victim slipped and hit her head before falling into the water as she jumped between moored boats to try and evade capture.

The security guards allegedly prevented onlookers from helping the drowning woman.

The MPs called on the government to file a lawsuit against the guards involved in the incident and establish a cross-party commission to investigate the death.

Mu Sochua, one of the Cambodia National Rescue Party MPs who signed the letters, said the ministers would be called to answer questions before parliamentary commissions if they did not respond to the letters.

“If there are flaws in law enforcement, we will encourage the parliament to summon the relevant ministers to be interrogated in the assembly,” she said.

General Khieu Sopheak, interior ministry spokesman, said the government would not establish a cross-party committee to investigate the death.

“If we set up an impartial committee following every death, the nation would become a mess.”

Chin Malin, justice ministry spokesman, said the authorities were already investigating the incident.

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