Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1995 - Cambodia, 1 January 1995, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9f1c.html [accessed 24 May 2013]
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One prisoner of conscience was detained in July. Nine Thai nationals were detained for three months before being charged and tried. Evidence emerged of illegal detention, torture, ill-treatment and extrajudicial execution at an illegal detention centre run by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF). At least 30 people were victims of suspected extrajudicial executions. Ethnic Vietnamese Cambodians were deliberately and arbitrarily killed by both the RCAF and forces of the Partie of Democratic Kampuchea (PDK or Khmer Rouge). The PDK committed grave human rights abuses throughout the year, including deliberate and arbitrary killings. Civil war between the RCAF and forces of the PDK continued throughout the year, with heavy fighting during the dry season. The coalition government, led by First Prime Minister Prince Krompreah Norodom Ranariddh, the leader of the National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Co-operative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC), and Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, leader of the Cambodian People's Party (cpp), made little progress in drafting new legislation. Proceedings in the National Assembly were delayed for several months while two cpp members, who had won seats in the 1993 election but then organized an attempt at secession, tried to retake their seats (see Amnesty International Report 1994). In July the two men, Prince Norodom Chakropong and General Sin Song, led a coup attempt in the capital, Phnom Penh. When the coup failed, Prince Norodom Chakropong left the country, after the intervention of his father, the head of state, King Norodom Sihanouk. Sin Song was placed under house arrest, but later escaped to Thailand. Following the coup attempt, the government put increasing pressure on journalists and human rights groups not to criticize members of the government or to refer to the attempted coup. Several laws debated in the National Assembly raised serious human rights concerns. In June, following the breakdown of peace negotiations, the government closed down the office of the PDK in Phnom Penh and in July the National Assembly passed a bill to outlaw the PDK. This law was broadly phrased and there were fears that it could be applied arbitrarily to imprison any government opponent. In August an immigration law was passed which allows the authorities to confiscate travel and identity documents from "illegal immigrants". The law does not meet minimum human rights standards on freedom of movement, and there were concerns that it could be applied arbitrarily to forcibly exile Cambodia's ethnic Vietnamese minority. A draft Press Law approved by the Council of Ministers falls far short of minimum international human rights standards. The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia submitted an extensive report to the UN Commission for Human Rights in February, detailing human rights violations on Cambodia. In March the Commission adopted a resolution requesting that the Special Representative report to the Commission in 1995, and that the Centre for Human Rights continue its work in Cambodia. The Special Representative made four visits to Cambodia in 1994, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights visited Cambodia in July. In December the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution expressing "grave concern about the serious violations of human rights as detailed by the Special Representative" including abuses by the PDK. Nguon Non, editor of the Khmer language newspaper Morning News, was arrested in July in connection with articles about the failed coup attempt. He was a prisoner of conscience. Nguon Non had already been arrested and charged in March, in connection with articles criticizing the Governor of Phnom Penh, but was later released. He was charged under the 1992 State of Cambodia Press Law, passed by the former communist government, which allows the authorities to shut down newspapers and imprison publishers. His trial was halted in July by the judge following a telephone call to the court from an unknown party, and Nguon Non was taken back to prison. Following interventions by the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, he was released on unconditional bail in August. His trial had not resumed by the end of the year. Nine political prisoners were detained in July for alleged involvement in the attempted coup. The men, all Thai nationals, were arrested at Phnom Penh airport as they tried to leave the country. Initially held under arrest at a hotel, they were transferred in August to T3 prison in Phnom Penh, where they were detained in poor conditions and denied full access to their diplomatic representatives. In October, following international concern about their cases, all nine men, and two Cambodian nationals, were charged with illegally transporting weapons and participating in a plot to overthrow the government. Following a hasty trial, the nine were all found guilty, given suspended sentences and allowed to return home. Evidence emerged in 1994 of the existence of an illegal detention centre at Cheu Kmau, a remote location in Battambang province, operated by the RCAF. At least 35 people had been illegally detained at Cheu Kmau between August and December 1993. All had been killed. During 1994 at least 19 people were illegally detained at Cheu Kmau, one of whom was severely injured in an explosion while being forced to clear landmines. A 17-year-old girl held near Cheu Kmau was repeatedly raped by soldiers in 1994. In spite of detailed investigations by the UN Centre for Human Rights Field Office in Cambodia, and requests for government action from the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia and others, no action was taken to bring the soldiers responsible to justice. A Special Commission established by the two prime ministers to investigate the case attempted to discredit the findings of UN investigators and concluded that no one was illegally detained at Cheu Kmau. In September a five-year-old girl was shot in the leg during an attack on the family of one of the staff members of the UN Field Office. UN staff believed the attack was politically motivated and linked to the Cheu Kmau investigations. No one was brought to justice for the attack. A prison officer, who had been arrested by the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) in 1993 for allegedly kill-ing prisoners and then handed over to the Cambodian Government, was released without charge by the authorities (see Amnesty International Report 1994). Officials investigating the case concluded that "there was no evidence against him", despite eye-witness reports that he had shot dead seven prisoners. He returned to a high-ranking job in the police force in Prey Veng province. A second prison officer arrested by UNTAC in 1993 and handed over to the Cambodian authorities was found guilty of torturing prisoners, fined and sentenced to one year's imprisonment. At least 30 unarmed people were deliberately killed during the year, some of them victims of extrajudicial executions. Some extrajudicial executions took place in the context of armed conflict between the RCAF and the PDK. For example, in May a PDK prisoner of war captured by RCAF troops in Battambang was decapitated by soldiers and his head was displayed on the wall of the regional military headquarters. Reports of at least three other such killings could not be confirmed. Civilians were also the victims of extrajudicial executions. Hun Sokea, a villager, was killed in February following a land dispute near Phnom Penh which had been violently broken up by the security forces. Hun Sokea was walking along a road near the disputed area when the military police ordered him to stop. When he did not obey, four or five military police officers beat him with rifle butts and shot him in the face as he lay on the ground. The military authorities claimed that Hun Sokea was a rebel who had attempted to "seize their guns". No one was brought to justice for the killing. In April, four RCAF soldiers entered a village in Kratie province and demanded food from the villagers. When none was produced, the soldiers started shooting at the villagers, killing three, including a seven-year-old boy, and wounding three others. Local human rights monitors reported the attack and in June three of the four soldiers who took part in the attack were tried and sentenced to between 10 and 13 years' imprisonment. The fourth soldier escaped arrest and had not been apprehended by the end of the year. Government critics were also killed. Newspaper editor Nuon Chan was shot dead in the street in Phnom Penh in September shortly after receiving verbal warnings from several government ministers, including the First Prime Minister, about the content of his newspaper, Voice of Khmer Youth. The government condemned the killing, but warned that "a number of local newspapers have frequently published articles groundlessly accusing the [government's] leaders, personnel and officials of being involved in this or that issue". Two local human rights organizations which condemned the killing and called for a full investigation were warned by the government that they could be shut down or taken to court. In another attack that was apparently politically motivated, journalist Chan Dara was shot dead in Kompong Cham province in December. Local police were implicated in killings which appeared to be politically motivated. In April, four FUNCINPEC police officers were disembowelled and killed in Kompong Speu province. Available evidence suggested that provincial police officials linked to the cpp ordered these killings. No one was held to account for the killings. Attacks on members of the ethnic Vietnamese minority, the most vulnerable group in the country, continued to be reported. In a typical attack in April, 13 ethnic Vietnamese civilians, nine of them children, were killed in an attack on the village of Piem So, Kandal province. Five armed men entered the village and threw grenades at a group of children playing in the street. They then attacked a woman and shot dead the village headman. Seven people arrested in connection with the attack were later released in spite of clear evidence against them, and no further investigations were conducted. In August, four ethnic Vietnamese people and two Khmers were killed in an attack on a village in Kandal province. Despite evidence pointing to the involvement of RCAF soldiers, no one was brought to justice for the killings. The PDK was responsible for grave human rights abuses throughout the year, including arbitrary killings and hostage-taking. The fate and whereabouts of some of those held by the PDK remained unknown. Amnesty International learned that in December 1993 a convoy of unarmed soldiers from the former Khmer People's National Liberation Armed Forces (KPNLAF) was ambushed by PDK soldiers. At least three people were killed and a further 17, including several KPNLAF officers, were captured. Their fate and whereabouts remained unknown. In July PDK soldiers attacked a train in Kampot province, killing at least nine people and capturing more than 100 others, including three ethnic Vietnamese civilians and three foreign tourists. Most were released soon afterwards, but up to 16 people were held in illegal detention for three months. PDK radio broadcasts indicated that they would hold the Western tourists for as long as certain Western governments continued to assist the RCAF. In November the bodies of the three Western hostages were discovered. The second in command of the unit which had carried out the attack on the train defected to the RCAF with most of his troops. No attempt was made by the government to bring him or any of his soldiers to justice. PDK forces launched arbitrary attacks on villages throughout the year in which an unknown number of civilians were killed and injured. In October PDK soldiers in Battambang province killed more than 40 civilians who were cutting bamboo. The civilians were forced to walk for two days before being shot dead. PDK forces also captured village officials in Siem Reap province and held them for "re-education". Hundreds of civilians were forced to work as porters and labourers for the PDK during the last three months of 1994. In January Amnesty International published a report, Kingdom of Cambodia: Human rights and the new Constitution, detailing the organization's concern that the new Constitution excludes certain sections of the population, notably the ethnic Vietnamese, from full human rights guarantees under the law. The organization also expressed concern about the human rights implications of the draft immigration law. In May Amnesty International called upon both sides fighting the civil war to respect at least minimum international standards for the treatment of prisoners. During the year Amnesty International called for a full investigation into reported extrajudicial executions at Cheu Kmau in Battambang province and elsewhere. It also appealed for the release of Nguon Non and for the fair and prompt trial of nine Thai nationals detained in connection with the attempted coup. The government did not respond to most of the organization's appeals. An Amnesty International delegation visited Cambodia in November to discuss the organization's concerns with government ministers.