Torture in  [Cambodia]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Cambodia]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Cambodia]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Cambodia]  [other countries]

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century                                                  

Kingdom of Cambodia

The garment industry currently employs more than 320,000 people and contributes more than 85% of Cambodia's exports.

The major economic challenge for Cambodia over the next decade will be fashioning an economic environment in which the private sector can create enough jobs to handle Cambodia's demographic imbalance. More than 50% of the population is less than 21 years old. The population lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the poverty-ridden countryside, which suffers from an almost total lack of basic infrastructure.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Cambodia

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Cambodia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.

*** ARCHIVES ***

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or download PDF at

[accessed 18 March 2015]


ARBITRARY DETENTION, TORTURE, AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT - The authorities detained hundreds of people they deemed to be “undesirable,” without judicial recourse in so-called drug treatment centers, where they face torture, sexual violence, and—in at least two centers—forced labor. Authorities locked up alleged drug users, homeless people, beggars, street children, sex workers, and people with disabilities in these centers for arbitrary periods. People held during investigation, or prosecution for common criminal offenses, or convicted in court, were still routinely tortured, or otherwise ill-treated. The police and prison authorities, beat, pistol-whipped, used electro-shock, kicked, slapped, and punched inmates, often until they become unconscious. Much of the torture was aimed at extracting confessions or extorting money.

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

Heng Reaksmey, Voice of America VOA Khmer, 25 June 2014

[accessed 30 June 2014]

“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.”

Three men say police tortured them

Phak Seangly, The Phnom Penh Post, 14 February 2014

[accessed 17 February 2014]

Three men in Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat district filed a complaint with the provincial court yesterday, claiming a commune police officer tortured and illegally detained them on Tuesday night.

Local authorities dispute that characterisation, however, and said that the men had started a fight at a wedding and were arrested, but not tortured.

In their complaint, Duong Deth, 28, Him Khoeum, 28, and Nub Ry, 23, accuse a Seda commune police officer known as “Mr Ny” of ordering a group of village security guards to strip the men and tie them to a table before pouring water and beer on their heads periodically throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

“They handcuffed us, hit us, kicked us and dragged us to the commune office where we were detained and tied to a table with chains and hammock strings. And they punched us on the mouth and head many times,” Ry said.

“They stripped us to only our underwear. It’s very inhumane. They also [threatened] to urinate on our heads.”

The men claim they were mistreated until dawn.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/KHM/CO/2 (2011)

[accessed 24 February 2013]

15. The Committee remains deeply concerned by the numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations of torture against and ill-treatment of detainees in detention facilities, in particular in police stations. In this respect, the Committee is further concerned at numerous allegations of cases of sexual violence against women in detention by law enforcement and penitentiary personnel. The Committee is also concerned that such allegations are seldom investigated and prosecuted and that there would appear to be a climate of impunity resulting in the lack of meaningful disciplinary action or criminal prosecution against persons of authority accused of acts specified in the Convention. While noting the information provided by the State party that its national laws, especially the Penal Procedure Code, do not contain any provisions that can be used as a justification or means for an excuse for torture, under any circumstances, the Committee is concerned at the lack of a provision in domestic legislation expressly prohibiting the invocation of exceptional circumstances as a justification for torture. (arts. 2, 4, 12 and 16)

As a matter of urgency, the State party should take immediate and effective measures to prevent acts of torture and ill-treatment, including sexual violence in detention, throughout the country, including through the announcement of a policy that would produce measurable results in the eradication of torture and ill-treatment by State officials, and through monitoring and/or recording of police interrogation sessions.

The State party should also ensure that all allegations of torture and ill- treatment, including sexual violence in detention, are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially, and that the perpetrators are prosecuted and convicted in accordance with the gravity of the acts, as required by article 4 of the Convention. The State party should enact a sentencing scheme governing convictions of torture and ill-treatment by government officials to ensure that adequate sentences are given to those who are found guilty of such acts.

The State party should ensure that its domestic legislation includes a provision expressly prohibiting the invocation of exceptional circumstances as a justification of torture.

Complaints and prompt, impartial and effective investigations

16. The Committee expresses its concern at reports that torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement and prison officials are widespread, that few investigations are carried out in such cases and that there are very few convictions. The Committee is also concerned at the absence of an independent civilian oversight body with the power to receive and investigate complaints of torture and ill-treatment by police and other law enforcement officials. The Committee regrets the lack of detailed information provided by the State party, including statistics, on the number of complaints of torture and ill-treatment and results of all the proceedings, both at the penal and disciplinary levels, and their outcomes. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned at the lack of effective mechanisms to ensure the protection of victims and witnesses. (arts. 1, 2, 4, 12, 13 and 16)

The State party should strengthen its measures to ensure prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment of convicted prisoners and detainees, including in police stations, and to bring to justice law enforcement and prison officials who carried out, ordered or acquiesced in such practices. The State party should establish an independent law enforcement complaint mechanism and ensure that investigations into complaints of torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials are undertaken by an independent civilian oversight body. In connection with prima facie cases of torture and ill-treatment, the alleged suspect should as a rule be subject to suspension or reassignment during the process of investigation, to avoid any risk that he or she might impede the investigation or continue any reported impermissible actions in breach of the Convention.

Furthermore, the State party should establish a programme of victim and witness protection to assist in ensuring confidentiality and to protect those who come forward to report or complain about acts of torture, as well as ensure that sufficient funding be allocated for its effective functioning.

Prolonged pretrial detention

17. The Committee notes with concern that the State party’s criminal justice system continues to rely on imprisonment as the default option for defendants awaiting trial and it remains concerned about the unwarranted protraction of the pretrial detention period during which detainees are likely to be subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. (arts. 2 and 11)

The State party should adopt effective measures to ensure that its pretrial detention policy meets international standards and that it is only used as an exceptional measure for a limited period of time, in accordance with the requirements under the Constitution and the Code of Penal Procedure. To this end, the State party should reconsider its use of imprisonment as the default option for defendants awaiting trial and consider applying measures alternative to such pretrial detention; that is supervised release prior to trial. It should also comprehensively apply and further develop legal provisions permitting non- custodial measures.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 22 January 2013]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits torture and physical abuse of prisoners; however, beatings and other forms of physical mistreatment of prisoners continued to be a serious problem. There were credible reports that military and civilian police officials used physical and psychological torture and severely beat criminal detainees, particularly during interrogation. According to the government, the number of inmates detained in the country's 24 prisons increased from 7,423 in 2004 to 9,373. A local NGO that monitored 17 of the prisons reported that during the year 308 inmates were pretrial detainees who had been held longer than the 6‑month maximum detention period established by law. Of 189 inmates interviewed by a local NGO, 25 claimed they were tortured upon their arrival at prison, and 52 others claimed they were tortured while in police custody. Members of the police and security force who carried out abuse often were protected from prosecution or disciplinary action by local government authorities, despite occasional central government efforts to curtail or eliminate violations of prisoners' rights and address problems of accountability.

On April 29, a commune police chief and another police officer without a warrant forcibly arrested a man because of a personal dispute from the previous day. The policemen suspended the man upside down from the ceiling of the police station, where he was interrogated, beaten, and forced to confess to a robbery in which he had no involvement. The victim was released later that night. Following a provincial police officer's urging, the victim accepted financial compensation and withdrew his criminal complaint from the provincial court. No legal action was taken against the police chief, and the case was terminated.

On November 8, a 15‑year‑old female prisoner filed a complaint with a local NGO, alleging that a guard threatened her with a gun after she refused his sexual advances. The prisoner later alleged that, in retaliation, prison authorities deprived her of sufficient clothing, food, and bathing time. A formal complaint was filed by the NGO with a provincial prosecutor, and the accused prison guard was suspended while the prosecutor investigated the complaint.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 6   Civil Liberties: 5   Status: Not Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 22 January 2013]

The judiciary is not independent and is marred by inefficiency and corruption. There is a severe shortage of lawyers, and judges are poorly trained and subject to political pressure from the CPP. Lower courts in particular do not meet basic international standards. Abuse by law enforcement officers, including illegal detention and the torture of suspects, is common.

Human Rights in Cambodia

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 22 January 2013]

Cambodia’s human rights record remains poor.  The judiciary lacks independence, leaving the government free to threaten arrest and prosecution and to curtail the right to free speech. The government also jails its critics, disperses peaceful protests by workers, displaces communities and farmers, and silences opposition party members.  The military and police frequently kill and torture criminal suspects with impunity, threaten human rights defenders, and forcibly evict residents from land coveted by commercial interests.  Government interference threatened to undermine the tribunal trying senior Khmer Rouge officials for genocide, as well as prevent prosecution of additional cases submitted by the international co-prosecutor.

Torture now as ever Cambodia's curse

The Phnom Penh Post, 7 July 2000

[accessed 19 Jan 2014]

Torture is an everyday occurrence in Cambodia. People are regularly and routinely beaten black and blue with punches and kicks. They are hit with batons, iron bars, gun butts, pieces of wood or other objects, subjected to electric shocks, whipped with wire, bamboo, rope or belts.   Some are nearly suffocated with pieces of plastic, or have their feet crushed under wooden or iron bars. For many victims, torture includes rape or other sexual abuse.  Aside from physical torture, methods of psychological torture include prolonged unlawful detention, verbal intimidation and death threats, mock executions and physical assaults or threats against relatives of victims.

Torture is inflicted on men, women and children in Cambodia, and many victims receive this treatment at the hands of those who are supposed to protect society: police officers, soldiers, government bodyguards and others in positions of authority.   The single biggest reason why torture is permitted to flourish in Cambodia into the 21st Century is the lack of accountability before the law of criminals who hold power or influence.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, " Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Cambodia",, [accessed <date>]



Torture in  [Cambodia]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Cambodia]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Cambodia]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Cambodia]  [other countries]