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Torture, Abuse Continue in Country’s Judicial System, Group Reports

Inside view of Prey Sar prison in Cambodia, file photo.
Inside view of Prey Sar prison in Cambodia, file photo.

PHNOM PENH - A local human rights group says Cambodian authorities have made no progress in combating torture and mistreatment in the country’s prisons and police stations.

“There has been no palpable change in the type, frequency and severity of abuse reported in recent years,” the group, Licadho, says in a report issued Wednesday, documenting hundreds of testimonies.

“Inmates continue to describe being beaten, kicked, slapped or punched, often until they were bleeding and unconscious,” Licadho says. “Objects used during beatings included guns, sticks, iron rods, stun batons and electric cables. One of the primary purposes of abuse continued to be the forced extraction of confessions or money.”

Licadho’s report includes abuse of women and juveniles and those with mental health problems. It includes 500 cases recorded since 2008.

Inmates also reported “being dragged on the ground by their hair; being forced to stand on one leg for prolonged periods; of guards standing and stamping on bodies and faces; objects being forced into mouths; cigarette burns; forced prolonged kneeling, including in direct sunlight; choking; and the use of electro-shock weaponry for torture.”

Am Sam Ath, senior monitor for Licadho, says these habits have not decreased and are done by “habit.” There have been no bans put in place by the courts or police leaders, he said.

Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, which oversees police and prisons, said the ministry has made efforts to reduce the practice. Reports from victims will be investigated, he said.

Licadho Director Naly Pilorge said authorities have failed in their responsibilities to prevent or punish acts of torture and ill treatment.