OPINION: Murder of Cambodian Government Critic Still Needs Investigation

OPINION: Murder of Cambodian Government Critic Still Needs Investigation

What you need to know

The killing of Kem Ley requires a thorough, professional and unbiased investigation that will follow the facts, wherever they lead, and hold accountable all involved no matter their position or their power, writes Phil Robertson.

Kem Ley's murder in broad daylight in central Phnom Penh a year ago, shortly after publicly criticizing the unusual wealth of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family, was all about silencing a prominent critic and reiterating that speaking about such sensitive topics carries a deadly risk.

No one believes the story concocted by convicted killer Oeuth Ang, not even his wife and family, but in a justice system captured by the ruling CPP, such stories don't require an iota of credibility for a conviction.

Prosecutors have not even gone through the motions to investigate alleged accomplices mentioned by Oeuth Ang, such as the person he says introduced him to Kem Ley, or the man who he claims sold him the gun used to commit the murder. Oueth Ang is at best a scapegoat for others who are still at large.

Given the failures of prosecutors and courts, 164 NGOs from around the world, including Human Rights Watch, are now demanding that Cambodia establish an independent and impartial Commission of Inquiry in line with the UN Principles on Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extralegal, Arbitrary, and Summary Executions (see text of letter in attached PDF foc).

Shockingly, in an indication of the total lack of political commitment to investigate Kem Ley's murder any further, representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Office of the Cabinet, and the Commissariat of the National Police all refused to receive the letter. Only the Ministry of Justice consented to receive it.

The killing of Kem Ley requires a thorough, professional and unbiased investigation that will follow the facts, wherever they lead, and hold accountable all involved no matter their position or their power.

Such an investigation must include UN human rights representatives and other legal experts with no connection to the Royal Government of Cambodia. Sadly, the prospects of this happening are close to nil as the people of Takeo mourning the passing of a favorite son on this first anniversary of his murder.

As Cambodia heads into national elections in 2018, the government's commitment to human rights and rule of law will be judged with close attention to how it handles demands for next steps in the Kem Ley case.

Read more:
Why Everyone is Worried about Cambodia, Again
Cambodia’s Climate of Fear Ahead of Crucial Elections
Dissecting the Cambodian Election
Cambodia: Towards Single Party Dictatorship?


Tags: