December 9, 2013

II. Findings

I couldn’t stand it; it was too brutal in there.
—Sok, a man in his 20s who escaped from Orgkas Khnom after six weeks, Phnom Penh, July 2013

Cambodia’s drug detention centers hold people who use drugs, those suspected of using drugs, and a wide range of other individuals considered “undesirable” by authorities. Homeless people, beggars, street children, sex workers, and people with actual or perceived disabilities are also locked up on a routine basis, often to “clean the streets” for visiting foreign dignitaries or international meetings.

Physical violence against male and female detainees is commonplace. Center staff punch and kick people, whip them using rubber water hoses, hit them with bamboo sticks or palm tree branches, or shock them with electric batons. They punish people with physical exercises intended to cause intense physical pain, such as making male detainees roll or crawl over the ground without even a shirt to protect them from sharp stones and rocks.

Much of the day-to-day control of people in the centers is carried out by detainees designated by staff to act as guards. These detainee guards also beat people, often on the direct orders of staff or while staff watch.

All of the forms of ill-treatment described below are strictly prohibited under international law. Some ill-treatment—such as whippings, blows, and electric shocks—constitutes torture. Rape and other forms of sexual assault in detention also amount to torture.

Orgkas Khnom detains women and girls in a separate building to men and boys, although some staff in this unit are men. In other centers, women and girls are held in the same facilities as men and boys. At least 1 in 10 of people in the centers is a child. They are held in the same rooms as adults, and are forced to perform exhausting physical exercises and military-like drills. Like adults, they are also subjected to physical abuse.

Many detainees are made to work. In some cases this forced labor is related to the functioning of the center, such as growing vegetables or working in the kitchen; those who attempt to refuse to work are beaten by detainee guards. In other cases, detainees are used to construct new buildings in the centers, or sent in work gangs to construction sites at houses or, in one case, a hotel. While the types of labor might differ from center to center, all forms of forced labor in the centers are prohibited by international and Cambodian law.

Locking Away Cambodia’s “Undesirables”

Procedures for confining people in Cambodia’s drug detention centers are perfunctory. None of the people whom Human Rights Watch interviewed in the course of researching this report saw a lawyer, judge, or court at any time before or during their detention.

People are usually picked up by security guards, police, or gendarmes. In Phnom Penh, police then take the person to the local police station or the municipal Social Affairs office, then transfer them to a center (usually Orgkas Khnom). In other locations, police or gendarmes usually take the person directly to the center, which in some cases is within the same compound as their own station.

Cleaning the Streets of People Who Use Drugs

In Cambodia, people who use drugs are highly stigmatized. In July 2012, when Human Rights Watch reiterated its call for Cambodia to close its drug detention centers, local media reported the then-deputy secretary-general of the NACD as saying: “Why do they just always rec­ommend closure? Do they want the drug users walking around?”[41]

Buon, in his early 20s, told Human Rights Watch he is a drug user. He was picked up in early 2013 when he and some friends fell asleep in a park during the day.

The police did not explain anything. I was questioned in the Daun Penh district police office then they sent me to the municipal Social Affairs office where they did a report about me. Then they sent me to Orgkas Khnom for three months. I never saw a lawyer or a judge.

Buon was subsequently held for three months.[42]

Sok, in his early 20s, said that he was picked up in early 2013 while sitting in a park during the afternoon with friends. He told Human Rights Watch:

The police said that they had some questions for us and that they would then let us go. But I was driven to the district police post on a motorbike and then they drove us to Orgkas Khnom in a caged truck.

Sok was adamant that Orgkas Khnom “is not a center for drug treatment.” He said he spent six weeks confined in Orgkas Khnom before he escaped.[43]

Champey spent three months in Orgkas Khnom in early 2013. In his mid-20s, he is a heroin user who was picked up one day in a park in Phnom Penh at midday. He told Human Rights Watch he was arrested by municipal Social Affairs officers:

They only told me that I should not sleep in the streets and that I should get inside their truck. First I went to the Daun Penh district police station, then the municipal Social Affairs office, then they took me to Orgkas Khnom.[44]

Some people who use drugs are detained in centers on the request of relatives. Beng, in his early 20s, uses methamphetamines. Describing his time in the police-run center in Siem Reap, Beng told Human Rights Watch he “felt homesick and scared.” He was detained after his mother paid the police $300 to hold him for six months. He told Human Rights Watch:

The police came to arrest me at my house. It wasn’t voluntary— I had to put my thumb print on some paper. The paper had my name on it but I don’t know what it said because I don’t know how to read. I was taken to the center the next morning.[45]

Some family members who are desperate for treatment options for a relative dependent on drugs might request police and other authorities lock up that person on the mistaken belief that the centers offer a therapeutic process. Government authorities hold out the centers as providing drug treatment (and, in many parts of Cambodia, the only available form of treatment). Detention costs between $50 and $200 per month, an amount usually paid by family members directly to the center.[46] In general, the detainee will be released once the family stops paying.

However, there are no protections for the person at risk of detention to ensure that family members do not act out of embarrassment or a desire to have the family member out of their lives for some time. Human Rights Watch saw an admission form from late 2009 for one child held in the center on the military base in Koh Kong. Addressed to the center’s director, the form was signed by the child’s mother, the village head, and the commune head. The form contained the following justification for detention by the child’s mother:

My son … behaves strangely and abnormally; he walks with a group of kids who use drugs. Consequently, my son’s behavior has become stubborn and disobedient. He argued verbally with his siblings and his mother. He went out for a walk and didn’t return home. Seeing this situation, I would like to send him to the rehabilitation center.[47]

The child was subsequently held by the military in Koh Kong province for two months.

Detaining Other “Undesirable” People

People who use drugs in Cambodia are not the only people considered “undesirable” by authorities. In early 2012, local media quoted an official at Phnom Penh’s Social Affairs department explaining that beggars and sex workers make the city “messy” and that rounding them up was necessary to “keep public order and make the city beautiful for ASEAN.” He said, “We’ve taken them for training.”[48] In fact, homeless people, beggars, street children, sex workers, and people with actual or perceived disabilities are routinely held in drug detention centers.

Homeless People

Eysan, in his early 30s, told Human Rights Watch he lives with his family on the streets of Phnom Penh. He was arrested by park guards while drinking wine with friends in early 2013:

They parked the truck near the riverside and asked us to get into the truck. They didn’t tell us why. We were driven in the Daun Penh district police station then another truck arrived —this truck belonged to the Social Affairs ministry—and we were driven to Orgkas Khnom center.

While he was detained, Eysan’s wife (who was pregnant at the time) began begging in order to support herself. Eysan told Human Rights Watch: “My wife had to become a beggar, but she didn’t have experience with this. I cried each night thinking about her.” Asked why he thought he was confined in Orgkas Khnom, Eysan replied, “They think we are disgusting because we live on the street.”[49]

Bopea is a homeless woman in her late 20s who was seized by the police after sleeping on the streets. She spent two weeks in Orgkas Khnom before managing to escape. Like other individuals in Orgkas Khnom, Bopea was made to perform physical exercises and military-like drills while detained. She told Human Rights Watch:

The trainer said the exercises were to make us detoxify from drugs by sweating. I told the trainer I did not use drugs but everyone had to do the exercises. It was ridiculous.[50]

An “intervention” truck from the Daun Penh district police in Phnom Penh. Such trucks are used to transport the police who carry out “street sweeps” of drug users and other people considered “undesirable” by authorities. © 2013 Human Rights Watch

The authorities confine homeless women and girls in a number of centers around Cambodia.[51] For example, Srab, in her early 40s, told Human Rights Watch she is a homeless woman who has never used drugs. She was held for four months in the gendarme-run center in Battambang in early 2012 after being picked up while collecting rubbish for recycling in a local market place. She explained: “I told them I didn’t need to stop using drugs but they sent me to the center anyway and made me perform physical exercises.”[52]

Street Children

Although the NACD Annual Report for 2012 is incomplete (as it lists only seven of the eight centers in Cambodia), it notes that of the 928 drug users recorded in these seven centers at the beginning of 2013, 98 were children between 10 and 17 years old. It categorizes 67 people in the centers as “street children” (and does not specify the nature of the other recorded children).[53]

Romchoang was an adolescent child when he was detained in the military-run center in Koh Kong province for 18 months. He was kept in the same room as approximately 20 other people, some of whom he said were 12 or 13 years old; others were adults. He had to perform military-like exercises each morning. Romchoang told Human Rights Watch that, like other people in the center, he was chained on arrival:

Once inside, you cannot leave the military barracks. All newcomers are chained for about a week to prevent them from running [away]. I was chained around my ankle to the foot of my bed, inside the room. It was so difficult not to be able to walk around.[54]

Asoch, in his early 30s, was detained in Orgkas Khnom for two weeks at the end of 2012. He told Human Rights Watch that he was held alongside children in that center:

There were maybe eight children who were 12 or 13 years old, and maybe six of them were 14 or 15. A few are also 16 or 17. They are detained in the same room as adults. Like adults, they did exercises to sweat out the drugs and were hit by the detainee guards if they made mistakes.[55]

A number of other people told Human Rights Watch that children were detained in the same room as adults in the centers.[56]

The NACD Annual Report for 2012 asserts that no children under the age of 10 were confined in the seven centers covered by that report.[57] However, Human Rights Watch talked with individuals who described being held alongside children as young as 6, while others told Human Rights Watch they were detained along with baby children.

For example, Phoatrobot was detained in the police-run center in Siem Reap for two weeks in mid-2012 for begging. She was arrested along with her young child and told Human Rights Watch that there were three other young children and babies in the center, also held when their parents were seized for begging.[58] Meak, in his mid-20s, was held for four-and-a-half months in the police-run center in Bavel district, Battambang province. He told Human Rights Watch that the center also held children aged 6, 8, and 9 years old.[59]

Sex Workers

Human Rights Watch has previously documented how sex workers in Cambodia face a wide range of abuses, including beatings, extortion, and rape, at the hands of authorities.[60] In some parts of the country, sex workers may be held at drug detention centers for short periods of time as a form of extortion. For example, Kadeurk, a sex worker in her 40s, said the authorities detained her in the police-run center in Siem Reap three times in late 2012. She said:

I was released the next morning each time. They said, “If you don’t pay us you won’t be able to leave.” I paid the police five dollars and they released me. They said it was a fee for the paper and the ink of the form to release me.[61]

Since 2011, the Orgkas Khnom center near Phnom Penh has had a separate facility to hold women and girls. According to government data, around 60 women and girls were held there at the beginning of 2013.[62] Women held at the center told Human Rights Watch that the women’s unit in Orgkas Khnom is used to confine female drug users, sex workers, female beggars, and homeless women and girls.[63]

Roseal, a sex worker in her late 20s, said she was held there for a week in early 2013. Altogether she said she had been detained in Orgkas Khnom “five or six times” over the last few years:

They arrest sex workers every day. When they arrested me they said I was not allowed to do this business in the park. The district police transferred me to the municipal Social Affairs office where I spent one night, then I was sent to Orgkas Khnom.

In her words, “We didn’t do anything wrong but we were locked up like prisoners.”[64] Aural, a sex worker in her early 30s, was held there for two weeks in early 2012.[65] Porvang, also a sex worker in her early 30s, was detained there for three months in early 2013.[66]

People with Actual or Perceived Disabilities

Government drug detention centers also detain some people with actual or perceived disabilities. In the centers, they experience verbal and physical abuse and do not have access to the healthcare services they may need. Palkum was detained in the gendarme-run center in Battambang for two weeks in early 2013. He told Human Rights Watch:

There were two crazy people in the center with me. They were locked in the room day and night and only during the exercise period could they leave the room. The gendarmes told them, “When you leave here, don’t go wandering away from home! Don’t go on the street!” But they just smiled without understanding.[67]

Some people described to Human Rights Watch how people with actual or perceived disabilities were subject to cruel physical abuse by staff and other detainees. Kronhong was held for one month in the police-run center in Siem Reap in early 2013. She told Human Rights Watch about one elderly man who had convulsions:

He was shaking and foaming at the mouth, screaming. The policeman said “Stop screaming! Stop making so much noise!” The police beat him with a metal bar and his mouth was gagged with paper so he couldn’t scream. I saw beatings like this three or four times with different crazy people while I was in the center.[68]

Reatrey, in his mid-30s, was held for three months at the Orgkas Khnom center the end of 2012. He told Human Rights Watch about the physical abuse of people with actual or perceived disabilities in that center:

They just sit on their own. Sometimes they eat other people’s leftovers, or eat the garbage. They speak only a few words. People beat them every day for fun: kids punch them in the head or kick them in the buttocks. The staff also beat them in this way—everyone beats them.[69]

Street Sweeps for Foreign Dignitaries

Government campaigns to detain drug users, beggars, homeless people, street children, sex workers, and people with actual or perceived disabilities intensify before and during international meetings or visits by foreign dignitaries.

Street sweeps of “undesirable” people for the three main ASEAN meetings that took place in Phnom Penh during 2012 were widely reported in Cambodian news sources. For example, one local newspaper reported a local government spokesperson’s statement that before the ASEAN summit held in Phnom Penh on April 3-4, 2012, the authorities arrested 108 homeless people, beggars, and child glue sniffers and transferred them to the municipal Social Affairs office in Phnom Penh “for further measures.”[70]

Another article cited a local government official who detailed the arrest and transfer to the same office of 73 homeless people, child glue sniffers, and sex workers a few days prior to an ASEAN ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh on July 9-13, 2012.[71] An article from November 2012 noted a local government official’s claim that 38 sex workers were arrested and transferred to the municipal Social Affairs office in Phnom Penh “to maintain public order” during the ASEAN summit held from November 15 to 20, 2012. The article mentioned that over 200 homeless people, sex workers, beggars, and child glue sniffers had been detained during the previous month.[72]

A number of sex workers and homeless people told Human Rights Watch they were held in detention centers immediately prior to various ASEAN meetings in Phnom Penh in 2012.[73]

Thnong was a homeless adolescent child when picked up for sleeping on the streets in early 2012; she said that she was detained along with 20 other people —including drug users, beggars, and rubbish recyclers— as part of what she was told was a campaign “to beautify the capital for the ASEAN summit.” Thnong was held in Prey Speu for a week:

The security guards and the district police who work near the Royal palace said to me “We need to clean the streets now: no one is allowed to sleep in the streets.” They said that foreign delegations at the ASEAN meetings will check to see if Cambodia is an orderly country.[74]

Ches, in his early 20s, was arrested while sniffing glue. He said that the police told him that the motivation for his arrest was the upcoming ASEAN meeting. Ches said:

They clean beggars off the streets of Phnom Penh when there is a foreign delegation that visits. They arrested five men and five women that night: all went into the truck. The police chief in the district police office said, “We have to arrest you because there is a big meeting soon.”

Ches said he was subsequently detained for six months in Orgkas Khnom.[75]

Thmat, in her late 20s, works as a street vendor and sleeps on the streets at night. District police officers picked her up a month before the November 2012 ASEAN meeting. The truck that took her to Orgkas Khnom held approximately 30 other homeless people, beggars, street children, sex workers, and drug users. Shortly after arriving at Orgkas Khnom, she tried unsuccessfully to challenge her detention:

I’m not a drug user. I asked “Why are you detaining me?” They said, “To correct you! You should stop sleeping in the streets.” I said, “I did not do anything wrong or illegal in the streets.” But the director of the center said I would stay longer if I kept on complaining to them in this way.

Thmat was held for three months in Orgkas Khnom.[76]

Physical and Sexual Abuse

Many detainees try to escape from the centers because of the ill-treatment and poor conditions, despite knowing the authorities will brutally punish them if they are recaptured.

Smonh, whose story appears in the summary of this report, was one of a group of detainees who tried to escape from Orgkas Khnom one night. He was among those recaptured by staff and then beaten by five detainee guards until he lost consciousness (which he only regained at 1 p.m. the next day). He told Human Rights Watch:

When I came round both hands were tied with rope behind my back and both my ankles were chained. Those of us who had been captured were not given any food for hours. At 7 p.m. we were taken out of the room to be tortured. We had to do eight military exercises: we had to leopard crawl forward on our knees and elbows, then we had to hold our hands over our chests and roll ourselves along the ground lengthwise.… While we did these exercises they beat me like they were whipping a horse. A single whip takes off your skin. A guard said “I’m whipping you so you’ll learn the rules of the center!” We were all crying. I just pleaded with them to stop beating me. I felt I wasn’t human any more.

He was then taken back to his room where detainee guards continued to beat him. He told Human Rights Watch that for four or five days afterwards, he was coughing blood. “They treat us like animals,” he said. “If they thought we were humans, they wouldn’t beat us like this.”[77]

Asoch witnessed a similar beating during his detention for two weeks in Orgkas Khnom in late 2012. He described what happened to a person caught trying to escape:

First the detainee guards beat him. Then they made him kneel down and the center director whacked him with the branch of a coconut palm tree over his back, many times, until the branch broke. The guy screamed in pain- it was pitiful to see. The director cursed him and said, “If you try to escape again, I will keep you longer than three months!” Then he had to take off his shirt and crawl on his stomach along the ground; it was back and forth for 50 meters about 10 times. He was bleeding on his forearms, elbows, and knees. Then he had to kneel outside in the sun until lunch, until finally they locked him up in his room.[78]

Romchoang was an adolescent child when detained in the military-run center in Koh Kong for 18 months. He told Human Rights Watch:

There was a cage in the center: it has concrete on the top and iron bars on two sides. It’s not high, maybe 1.75 meters high, and 4 meters by 6 meters. One detainee was rearrested after he tried to escape: I saw two soldiers go into the cage to beat him as punishment.[79]

Sok was held in Orgkas Khnom in early 2013 for six weeks. Like Asoch and Romchoang, Sok also saw a fellow detainee beaten by center staff and detainee guards after a failed escape attempt—staff whipped the man three times, forced him to crawl along stony ground, and then took him to a room where detainee guards beat him more. Despite this, Sok escaped after he and a small group of friends broke the tiles in the roof of his room at 3 a.m. one morning and then jumped the external wall. “It was too brutal in there,” he said.[80]

According to interviewees, physical abuse for minor reasons or without apparent rationale is common. Pram, who was detained in Orgkas Khnom for three-and-half months in early 2013, said, “The most difficult thing is the beatings: they happen every other day.”[81]

Detainee guards in charge of each room commonly beat each new person shortly after arrival.[82] Sokrom, a woman in her mid-40s held in Prey Speu for three months at the end of 2012, said two guards beat her for asking to go to the toilet.[83] Palkum, an adolescent child when detained in the gendarme center in Battambang for two weeks in early 2013, said he witnessed staff beating two people with a piece of firewood after the two had quarreled.[84] Champey, confined in Orgkas Khnom for three months in early 2013, said he saw the center director beat a man with a bamboo pole as punishment after the man kept vegetables from the center’s vegetable patch for himself to supplement the center’s meager meals.[85]

Former detainees told Human Rights Watch that they were beaten for committing errors while performing daily military-like exercises and drills. Buon described life in the center: “Even if an NGO visited the center, we wouldn’t be free to talk. To really explain what it’s like we have to wait until we are released.”[86] On one occasion he fell out of step during a military march and was punished. He told Human Rights Watch:

As punishment, the staff trainer told me: “Go stand in the water pit!” I stood in the pit of organic fertilizer: I had to stand an hour in filthy water mixed with urine, with snails and insects in the water. It came up above the knee. It smelt terrible and the smell stuck to me afterwards. While I was standing there I was so unhappy I wanted to die.

His punishment continued the next day.

I had to leopard crawl on the ground about 200 meters. I had cuts on my elbows and forearms and blood was flowing like water. Every step I was beaten by a detainee guard with a rubber water hose. The staff was watching. I just kept crawling forwards, trying not to care about being hit, but I was crying.[87]

Thmat is a street vendor in her late 20s who was arrested while sleeping in a market place in Phnom Penh. Despite not being a drug user, she was forced to perform military-like exercises and marches each morning. She told Human Rights Watch that she was punished when she made a small mistake while singing a marching song:

I was slapped three or four times by a female staff. Then she made me hold both hands behind my head and jump until I was exhausted. Then I had to crouch on the ground with my hands behind my head in the sun for three hours.

Thmat also told Human Rights Watch that male staff members raped her:

There were two of them who raped me. They were the staff in charge of me and other women. It was at night around 9 p.m. and they called me to their room. There was a struggle but if I refused then I got beaten. They told me not to tell anyone: they said, “If the boss knows this, we will beat you.” They did it to other women as well, to beautiful women and new arrivals.[88]

Forced Labor

Individuals are often compelled to work while being held in Cambodia’s drug detention centers. This is not government law or policy. Rather, the requirement to work differs across centers and appears to be left to the discretion of center directors. International law prohibits forced labor. Although there is an exception to this prohibition for “[a]ny work or service exacted from any person as a consequence of a conviction in a court of law” (if certain other preconditions are met), people held in drug detention centers in Cambodia have not been detained following a conviction in a court of law.[89]

In some centers, all detainees are forced to work at tasks related to the basic functioning of the center. For example, in the police-run center in Bavel district, Battambang province, Meak told Human Rights Watch that everyone held in the center had to work for one or two hours each day:

We had to dig the ground and plant vegetables, or collect firewood outside the center for the kitchen. Kids have to cut grass. It is a rule of the center to work because they want to correct us. I did not see anyone who tried not to work.[90]

Beng, in his early 20s, was detained in the police center in Siem Reap. He told Human Rights Watch:

Once every three or four days, for five hours in the morning, I worked cutting grass in front of the police commission. They told us it was to keep us busy. Four police men kept watching us all the time to stop us from escaping.[91]

In other centers, people held after being apprehended by the police must work at tasks related to the functioning of the center, while detainees whose families pay for their detention do not have to do this work. For example, Buon, who was seized by police while sleeping in the park, said:

I had to clean dishes all day. If you don’t work in the kitchen, you work in the garden. If you are arrested by the police and you don’t work at all, you are beaten up.[92]

Takiev, in his early 20s, was arrested by park guards and held in Orgkas Khnom in early 2013:

At meal times we had to prepare the tables for 320 people, then wash the dishes. This work took three hours each day. If I did not clean the dishes I was beaten. There are inspections and if there was something unclean then we all got beaten.[93]

In three centers —Orgkas Khnom, the gendarme-run center in Banteay Meanchey province, and the gendarme-run center in Battambang— individuals previously held in the centers described being forced to work in construction.

According to Chaet, a man in his early 20s who was held at the gendarme center in Banteay Meanchey for four months, those in the center were forced to construct a four-story building intended to increase the center’s capacity to detain more people. He said:

All the detainees are used to construct a new building in the gendarme compound. It has four floors. There is space in each room for many people and there are bars in the windows. That means more people can be held there.[94]

In May 2013, a Human Rights Watch researcher witnessed dozens of detainees working in the center in Banteay Meanchey province. They were carrying sand from near the front of the gendarme compound towards a new four-story building covered in scaffolding, also inside the compound. They were working under the immediate supervision of a detainee guard carrying a stick.

Former detainees from two centers described work teams whose members labored outside the centers. Champey, in his mid-20s, told Human Rights Watch that during his three-month stay in Orgkas Khnom he was forced to work on the property of the then-director of that center. He said:

I worked at the house of the center’s director: I laid tiles and curbing on his property. His house is near Orgkas Khnom. I did this for about two weeks. There were three guards at the house while we worked there: they were watching us all the time, afraid we would run away. If I hadn’t worked there the detainee guards would have beaten me up. The director said, “As soon as you finish the work you can leave the center.”

Champey said that he was released a few days early because of the work.[95]

Another detainee, Takiev, told Human Rights Watch that he was also forced to perform manual labor at the house of the then-director of the Orgkas Khnom center. He said:

Every day at six o’clock in the morning they drove us in a truck belonging to the center director and we returned to the center at five o’clock in the evening. The house of the boss of the center is close to Orgkas Khnom— it’s a big villa made of stone. Eleven of us worked digging pits and laying drainage pipes in the ground. It was very tiring to work in the sun.

When asked why he performed this work, Takiev said:

The rule is to stay in Orgkas Khnom for three months but if you work like this, you get released sooner. I was released early because I worked hard and quickly while digging the ground. They told me: “If you don’t work you’ll be beaten up and sent back to the center and not allowed to go home.”[96]

Other people formerly held in Orgkas Khnom confirmed that they saw fellow detainees leave the center during the day to work at the house of the then-director of the center.[97]

Former detainees at the gendarme-run center in Battambang told Human Rights Watch that detainees worked on the construction site of a new hotel in Battambang. Palkum said:

In the early morning detainees were driven in a Nissan pickup truck to work at the hotel. They came back covered in cement. After I was released I went near the hotel and I saw them working there. About 20 detainees were inside and four of my friends were with them. They were doing stone work, laying the floor, that sort of thing.[98]

Pisak, in his mid-20s, spent six weeks in the gendarme center in Battambang in mid-2012. He explained that the gendarmes tell detainee guards which individuals they want to work. Detainees then work in the morning from 7 or 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., come back to the center for lunch, then return to the construction site to work from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. before they are taken back to the center at night. Pisak described what happened to one person who tried to escape while working on the construction site and was then recaptured:

When he arrived back to the center, he had almost lost consciousness from his beating. He was then beaten a second time at the center by both the gendarme and the detainee guards. The gendarme said to us: “You guys watch this: if you dare to run away, you will get the same!” His backside had no skin left after the beating.[99]

Others held in the Battambang center confirmed that they saw detainees leave each day to work at the hotel construction site.[100]

In mid-May 2013, a Human Rights Watch researcher saw young men working at the construction site of a large hotel in Battambang. Gendarmes were watching them work. A pickup truck with gendarme license plates and loaded with the young men then drove from the construction site in the direction of the gendarme center in Battambang town. However, the destination of the pickup could not be confirmed.

Young men who had been working under gendarme supervision on the construction site of a hotel in Battambang are driven in a pickup towards the gendarme-run drug detention center. © 2013 Human Rights Watch

[41]Meas Vyrith, then-NACD deputy secretary-general, quoted in Zsombor Peter and Phorn Bopha, “From Mainlining to Methadone in Cambodia,” Cambodia Daily, November 30, 2012, http://www.cambodiadaily.com/special-reports/cambodias-methadone-dilemma-4927/ (accessed August 29, 2013); “Drug Detention Centers Offer Torture, Not Treatment,” Human Rights Watch news release, July 24, 2012, http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/24/drug-detention-centers-offer-torture-not-treatment.

[42] Human Rights Watch interview with Buon, Phnom Penh, May 2013.

[43] Human Rights Watch interview with Sok, Phnom Penh, July 2013.

[44] Human Rights Watch interview with Champey, Phnom Penh, June 2013.

[45] Human Rights Watch interview with Beng, Siem Reap, May 2013.

[46]World Health Organization Western Pacific Region, “Assessment of compulsory treatment of people who use drugs in Cambodia, China, Malaysia and Vietnam: An application of selected human rights principles,” 2009, p. 10.

[47] “Application Form: Request for Admission of Siblings, Children, Niece, Nephew, Grand Children Into the Center,” end of 2009. (Translation by Human Rights Watch). Copy on file with Human Rights Watch.

[48]Yo Sopheak, chief of social health at the Phnom Penh Department of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, quoted in Sen David, “Beggars, prostitutes rounded up ahead of ASEAN summit,” Phnom Penh Post, January 5, 2012, http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/beggars-prostitutes-rounded-ahead-asean-summit (accessed August 31, 2013).

[49] Human Rights Watch interview with Eysan, Phnom Penh, May 2013.

[50] Human Rights Watch interview with Bopea, Phnom Penh, May 2013.

[51] Former detainees reported that the police-run center in Bavel district, Battambang province, the gendarme-run center in Battambang, the police-run center in Siem Reap, and Prey Speu near Phnom Penh all detain homeless women and girls. The police-run center in Bavel district: Human Rights Watch interview with Meak, Battambang, May 2013. The gendarme-run center in Battambang: Human Rights Watch interview with Srab, Battambang, May 2013. The police-run center in Siem Reap: Phoatrobot, Siem Reap, May 2013; Kadeurk, Siem Reap, May 2013; Kronhong, Siem Reap, May 2013. Prey Speu: Thnong, Phnom Penh, May 2013; Sokrom, Phnom Penh, May 2013; Muoy, Phnom Penh, May 2013; Preuk, Phnom Penh, June 2013.

[52] Human Rights Watch interview with Srab, Phnom Penh, May 2013.

[53] National Authority for Combating Drugs, “Report about Outcome of Drug Control 2012 and Work Direction for 2013.”

[54] Human Rights Watch interview with Romchoang, Koh Kong, May 2013.

[55] Human Rights Watch interview with Asoch, Phnom Penh, July 2013.

[56] For example, Human Rights Watch interviews with Buon, Phnom Penh, May 2013; Reatrey, Phnom Penh, July 2013; Beng, Siem Reap, May 2013.

[57] National Authority for Combating Drugs, “Report about Outcome of Drug Control 2012 and Work Direction for 2013.”

[58] Human Rights Watch interview with Phoatrobot, Siem Reap, May 2013.

[59] Human Rights Watch interview with Meak, Battambang, May 2013.

[60] Human Rights Watch, Off the Streets: Arbitrary detention and other abuses against sex workers in Cambodia, July 20, 2010, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2010/07/19/streets (accessed September 3, 2013).

[61] Human Rights Watch interview with Kadeurk, Siem Reap, May 2013.

[62] National Authority for Combating Drugs, “Report about Outcome of Drug Control 2012 and Work Direction for 2013.”

[63] Human Rights Watch interviews with Thmat, Phnom Penh, July 2013; Aural, Phnom Penh, July 2013.

[64] Human Rights Watch interview with Roseal, Phnom Penh, July 2013.

[65] Human Rights Watch interview with Aural, Phnom Penh, July 2013.

[66] Human Rights Watch interview with Porvang, Phnom Penh, July 2013.

[67] Human Rights Watch interview with Palkum, Battambang, May 2013.

[68] Human Rights Watch interview with Kronhong, Siem Reap, May 2013.

[69] Human Rights Watch interview with Reatrey, Phnom Penh, July 2013.

[70] “Multi-Party Committee of Khan Daun Penh District Gathered 108 Homeless People,” Koh Santeapheap Daily, March 25, 2012. (Translation by Human Rights Watch). Copy on file with Human Rights Watch.

[71] “Khan Daun Penh launched campaign, gathered homeless people and sex workers, totals 70,” Koh Santeapheap Daily, July 6, 2012; “Campaign to gather homeless people and sex workers before ASEAN summit,” Koh Santeapheap Daily, July 7, 2012. (Translations by Human Rights Watch). Copies on file with Human Rights Watch.

[72] “Khan Daun Penh launched campaign to gather sex workers before ASEAN’s summit,” Koh Santeapheap Daily, November 2, 2012. (Translation by Human Rights Watch). Copy on file with Human Rights Watch.

[73] Sex workers: Human Rights Watch interviews with Roseal, Phnom Penh, July 2013; Aural, Phnom Penh, July 2013. Homeless people: Human Rights Watch interviews with Kolap, Phnom Penh, June 2013; Pram, Phnom Penh, May 2013; Thnong, Phnom Penh, May 2013; Thmat, Phnom Penh, July 2013; Smonh, Phnom Penh, July 2013.

[74] Human Rights Watch interview with Thnong, Phnom Penh, May 2013.

[75] Human Rights Watch interview with Ches, Battambang, May 2013.

[76] Human Rights Watch interview with Thmat, Phnom Penh, July 2013.

[77] Human Rights Watch interview with Smonh, Phnom Penh, July 2013.

[78] Human Rights Watch interview with Asoch, Phnom Penh, July 2013.

[79] Human Rights Watch interview with Romchoang, Koh Kong, May 2013.

[80] Human Rights Watch interview with Sok, Phnom Penh, July 2013.

[81] Human Rights Watch interview with Pram, Phnom Penh, May 2013.

[82] See, for example, Human Rights Watch interviews with Ches, Battambang, May 2013; Sok, Phnom Penh, July 2013; Takiev, Phnom Penh, May 2013; Beng, Siem Reap, May 2013;Champey, Phnom Penh, June 2013; Buon, Phnom Penh, May 2013; Thmat, Phnom Penh, July 2013; Pram, Phnom Penh, May 2013; Meak, Battambang, May 2013.

[83] Human Rights Watch interview with Sokrom, Phnom Penh, May 2013.

[84] Human Rights Watch interview with Palkum, Battambang, May 2013.

[85] Human Rights Watch interview with Champey, Phnom Penh, June 2013.

[86] Human Rights Watch interview with Buon, Phnom Penh, May 2013.

[87] Ibid.

[88] Human Rights Watch interview with Thmat, Phnom Penh, July 2013. Sexual abuse of female detainees by center staff was also described by Mikase, a homeless woman in her mid-20s detained in Orgkas Khnom for two weeks in late 2012: Human Rights Watch interview with Mikase, Phnom Penh, May 2013.

[89] ILO Convention No. 29 concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour (Forced Labour Convention), adopted June 28, 1930, 39 U.N.T.S. 55, entered into force May 1, 1932, ratified by Cambodia on February 24, 1969, art. 2.

[90] Human Rights Watch interview with Meak, Battambang, May 2013.

[91] Human Rights Watch interview with Beng, Siem Reap, May 2013.

[92] Human Rights Watch interview with Buon, Phnom Penh, May 2013.

[93] Human Rights Watch interview with Takiev, Phnom Penh, May 2013.

[94] Human Rights Watch interview with Chaet, Banteay Meanchey, May 2013.

[95] Human Rights Watch interview with Champey, Phnom Penh, June 2013.

[96] Human Rights Watch interview with Takiev, Phnom Penh, May 2013.

[97] Human Rights Watch interviews with Ches, Battambang, May 2013; Thnou, Phnom Penh, July 2013; Eysan, Phnom Penh, May 2013; Reatrey, Phnom Penh, July 2013.

[98] Human Rights Watch interview with Palkum, Battambang, May 2013.

[99] Human Rights Watch interview with Pisak, Battambang, May 2013.

[100] Human Rights Watch interviews with Srab, Battambang, May 2013 and Meak, Battambang, May 2013.