Skip to main content

(New York) The Cambodian government should arrest the village chief implicated in the murder of an opposition activist's 16-year-old daughter, Human Rights Watch said today.

No action has yet been taken to enforce an arrest warrant against the alleged murderer of Khuon Dina. She was shot to death on August 6 in Kompong Cham province.

"The Cambodian government must demonstrate a commitment to justice, particularly in cases that may have political overtones," said Sara Colm, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch's Asia division. "Now that an arrest warrant has been issued, the test is whether the police will actually arrest the local official suspected of the crime."

Khuon Dina was shot dead on the afternoon of August 6. She had been collecting scrap latex in the rubber plantations of Tbong Khmum District with her brother-in-law and four others. Several witnesses observed the plantation village chief of Opi village, Nguon Oum, approach quickly on his motorbike, chase Dina and the others, then open fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, shooting Dina twice. Two witnesses said that Ngoun Oum kicked Dina's body to ensure she was dead before he left the scene. Human rights investigators reported that earlier in the day Nguon had searched the area for Dina and her siblings.

While local authorities attribute Dina's killing to a dispute over illegal latex collection, many residents believe the slaying was politically motivated. In addition, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee has stated that Dina's murder was a result of her father's political affiliation. Regardless of the motivations, Human Rights Watch condemns the killing.

Local authorities had been harassing Dina's family since April, when her father, Chan Moni, became a local activist for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP). On election day, July 27, police officers shouted at SRP activists including Chan Moni, who complained about alleged fraud at the polling station. Days before Dina's murder, Ngoun Oum threatened to shoot Dina's brother and beat her older sister for stealing rubber. When Chan Moni complained to Nguon Oum about this treatment, Nguon Oum also beat Chan Moni. Hours after the slaying, as Chan Moni and his friends were making funeral arrangements for Khuon Dina, a policeman from the rubber plantation approached them and tried to persuade Chan Moni not to file a formal complaint.

"The Cambodian government must instruct the police to act quickly to arrest Nguon Oum," said Colm. "Too often in Cambodia warrants do not get served and cases are quietly dropped. As a result, murderers go unpunished and the families of victims are denied justice."

Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world.

Region / Country