(Washington, DC) - The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on April 19 is scheduled to host Cambodia’s national police chief for discussions on counterterrorism, even though Hok Lundy has been implicated in what the FBI itself has classified as a terrorist act, Human Rights Watch said today.
Human Rights Watch called on the US State Department to cancel his visa. The FBI invited Lundy to Washington for talks on bilateral counterterrorism cooperation.
“Hok Lundy’s alleged involvement in political violence and organized crime in Cambodia means that the FBI should be investigating him, not hosting him,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Aside from his boss, Prime Minister Hun Sen, there is hardly anyone in Cambodia who has shown more contempt for the rule of law than Hok Lundy.”
Lundy has been implicated in a number of serious human rights abuses. According to information Human Rights Watch has shared with the US government, Lundy was part of a conspiracy to carry out a grenade attack on opposition leader Sam Rainsy in March 1997, in which 16 people were killed and more than 150 injured. The FBI officially classified the grenade attack as a terrorist act.
During the July 1997 coup, in which forces loyal to then co-Prime Minister Sen ousted then co-Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh, Lundy commanded battalions loyal to Sen that were implicated in extrajudicial killings. More than 100 opposition party members and supporters were the victims of extrajudicial killings, and dozens of opposition supporters fled into exile.
Human Rights Watch’s investigations support allegations that Lundy ordered the extrajudicial killing of the deputy Minister of Interior Ho Sok, a senior Ranariddh loyalist, shortly after the coup. Sok was shot just down the hall from Lundy’s office in the Ministry of Interior compound. The official explanation was that unknown armed persons forced their way into the heavily guarded compound, shot Sok, and then successfully fled. Lundy was never investigated for the killing.
Lundy has also been implicated in drug trafficking, the return of refugees to countries where they faced persecution, and human trafficking. Two US Drug Enforcement Agency officials and a former US ambassador to Cambodia have confirmed to Human Rights Watch that the US government is aware of Lundy’s involvement in drug trafficking.
In February 2006, the State Department’s human trafficking office specifically cited Lundy’s alleged involvement in human trafficking as grounds for denying him a visa. That decision was linked to a brothel raid in December 2004, following which Lundy reportedly ordered the release within hours of several traffickers before an investigation could be conducted. In March 2006, the FBI awarded Lundy a medal for his support for the US global war on terrorism, and US Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph Mussomeli praised Lundy’s cooperation with the US in drug trafficking and human smuggling. State Department officials confirmed today that Lundy has been invited to the FBI specifically because of his purported cooperation in counterterrorism efforts.
“By inviting Hok Lundy to discuss the rule of law and effective police enforcement, the US government is likely to breed cynicism among Cambodians about its commitment to human rights and political reform,” said Adams.
In a 2004 Executive Order, President Bush stated that any foreign official thought to be seriously implicated in corruption would be denied entry into the US.
Lundy had initially been invited to attend the International Conference on Asian Organized Crime and Terrorism in Las Vegas earlier this month. The conference, which is hosted by the US Drug Enforcement Agency, the US Department of Justice and the US Department of the Treasury, as well as several state and local agencies, focused on “past and current investigative techniques that have proven reliable in combating the threat of Asian Organized Crime and Terrorism activities.” Two other Cambodian police officials, antiterrorism department chief Brigadier General Bith Kim Hong, and first deputy chief of the Cambodian Interpol department, Brigadier General Keo Van Than, attended the Las Vegas conference.
“Treating Hok Lundy like a respected law enforcement officer is something out of ‘Alice in Wonderland,’” said Adams. “He represents the absolute worst that Cambodia has to offer and should never have been given a US visa.”