(New York) – Cambodian security force commanders should no longer also be officials of political parties. On February 1, 2015, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) greatly enhanced the party’s centralized political control over the county’s security forces by adding at least 80 commanders and other officials with security duties to the CPP Central Committee.

The leaders of the army, gendarmerie, and police have long been CPP officials. Cambodia’s donors should call for an end to this practice and urge the creation of genuinely nonpartisan and professional security forces, Human Rights Watch said.

“Security force personnel can be ordinary party members, but as soon as they take a leadership role, they are crossing the line,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. Cambodia won’t have impartial, rights-respecting security forces so long as their commanders are beholden to the ruling party.”

The CPP convened an Extraordinary Nationwide Representative Congress from January 30 to February 1. The congress dropped the names of 29 persons on the existing 268-person Central Committee who had either died, resigned, or been expelled from the body before the congress, but otherwise kept veteran party leaders in place. It also added 306 new names, expanding the number of people in the Central Committee to 545. Most of these are well-known CPP veterans, although they also include the politically emergent sons of Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior party leaders.

The party congress appointed virtually every important national, regional, and provincial officer and official with command authority over security forces as members of the Central Committee. An analysis of the old and added members reveals that the number of persons with operational command over Cambodian security forces has more than tripled—from 36 on the previous committee to at least 116.

The new Central Committee members include officers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, Royal Khmer Gendarmerie, and the police. Also now in the Central Committee are all provincial and municipal governors, who are appointed to office but are almost all heads of the CPP in their areas of administration. Cambodian laws on security force personnel and civil servants, who include provincial and other governors, require them to perform their official functions with political neutrality. The governors play a security role by chairing provincial and municipal “unified command committees.” These committees exercise command authority over “mixed forces” comprising local army, gendarme, police, and public order para-police, whose heads are subordinated to the governor as members of these committees.

Details of the security force command authority of previous and added CPP Central Committee members are provided in an appendix below.

Cambodia’s Law on Political Parties stipulates that security force personnel must not act in favor of or against any political party, and furthermore that political parties “must not set up organizational structures” in security force institutions. However, military officers have told Human Rights Watch that covert CPP cells normally headed by commanding officers exist in military units. The existence of a hierarchy of CPP cells in the police and in provincial and municipal civil services is openly reported by CPP and pro-CPP media.

Adhering to both Cambodian law and CPP rules would create a conflict of interest for security force commanders, Human Rights Watch said. The CPP Statute and Internal Rules requires that Central Committee members “effectively organize and implement” party policies and decisions in the realms for which they are responsible.

Human Rights Watch expressed concern that many of the new members of the Central Committee, such as Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police Mok Chito, Deputy Navy Commander Srun Saroeun, Deputy RCAF Supreme Commanders Hing Bunheang and Chhin Chanpoar, Deputy National Gendarmerie Commander Rat Sreang, and Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police Chuon Sovan and Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatevong, have been implicated in serious human rights abuses.

Many of the units for which the new Central Committee members are responsible have long histories of violating human rights, such as national Intervention Division 2, navy and regional infantry Brigades 21, 31, 41, 42, 51, 52, and 53, constituent units of Police Regions 3 and 4, the Phnom Penh gendarmerie and police, and other “mixed forces” in provinces throughout Cambodia. The violations for which they have been responsible include use of excessive force to kill protesters or forcibly evict people from their land or homes, political assassinations and other murders, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, rape, and human trafficking.

“Holding a senior post in Cambodia’s ruling party has proven to be a handy way for human rights abusers to escape justice,” Adams said. “Lower level police officers, prosecutors, and judges are afraid enough of the security forces, but now they also have to worry about retaliation from the CPP if they do their jobs.”

Appendix                         

Continuing Central Committee Members with Security Force Command Authority

1

Pol Saroeun

General; Member; Supreme Council of National Defence; Supreme Commander of RCAF

2

Kun Kim

General; Deputy Supreme Commander of RCAF; Chief of the RCAF Mixed General Staff

3

Meas Sophea

General; Deputy Supreme Commander of RCAF; Commander of the Army

4

Net Savoeun

General; Supreme Commissioner of National Police

5

Khvan Seam

General; Deputy Supreme Commander of RCAF; Commander of the Engineering Headquarters

6

Kieng Savut

General; Deputy Supreme Commander of RCAF

7

Chea Saran

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the Army; Chief of Army General Staff

8

Chea Man

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the Army; Commander of Military Region 4

9

Choeun Sovantha

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the Army; Commander of Military Region 2

10

Dam Vuthy

General; Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police

11

Bun Seng

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the Army; Commander of Military Region 5

12

Prum Din

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the Army

13

Meas Thang

Vice Admiral; Deputy Chief of the Mixed General Staff; Deputy Commander of the Navy

14

Mak Sarun

General; Deputy Supreme Commander of RCAF

15

Samrit Dy

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the Army

16

Lanh Kao

General; Deputy Chief of the RCAF Mixed General Staff; Commander, Armor Headquarters;

17

Ung Samkhan

General; Deputy Supreme Commander of RCAF

18

Ul Navy

Lieutenant General; Deputy Chief of the RCAF Mixed General Staff; Commander of the Air Defense Headquarters

19

Chan Ean

General; Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police and Chairman of the Personnel Directorate of the Supreme Commissariate of National Police

20

Chap Pheakadey

Lieutenant General; Deputy Chief of the RCAF Mixed General Staff; Commander of Paratrooper Special Forces Brigade 911

21

Chea Tara

General; Deputy Supreme Commander of RCAF;  Director, Directorate of Military Research and Intelligence of the RCAF Supreme Command; Chairman, Supreme Unified Front Command of Military Region 4;

22

Mao Chantara

General; Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police

23

Mao Sophan

General; Deputy Chief of the Mixed General Staff; Commander of Intervention Brigade 70

24

Yoeung Sokhon

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the Army; Commander of Military Region 3

25

Soeng Samnang

General; Commander of the Air Force

26

Seum Sophal

General; Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police; Commander of Police Region 3

27

Sok Phal

General; Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police

28

Sao Sokha

General; Deputy Supreme Commander of RCAF; Commander of the National Gendarmerie

29

Huot Chheang

Lieu ant General; Deputy Commander of the Army; Commander of Military Region 1

30

Um Bot

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the Army

31

Chieng Am

Chairman, Svay Rieng Province Unified Command Committee

32

Prach Chan

Chairman, Tbaung Khmum Province Unified Command Committee

33

Chhin Sokhon

Chairman, Preah Sihanouk Province Unified Command Committee

34

Ken Satha

Chairman, Kep Province Unified Command Committee

35

Ou Sam-aun

Chairman, Kampong Speu Province Unfired Command Committee

36

Khauy Khunhuor

Chairman of the Kampot Province Unified Command Committee

     

 

Newly Added Central Committee Members with Security Force Command Authority

37/1

Yun Chhuny

Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police

38/2

Kheng Sumet

Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police; Commander of Police Region 4

39/3

Kang Sokhan

Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police

40/4

Chuon Sovan

Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police; Phnom Penh Police Commissioner

41/5

Yuk Sokha

Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police

42/6

Kiet Chantharit

Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police; National Police Spokesperson

43/7

Thaong Lim

Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police

44/8

Chhay Sinarit

Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police

45/9

Mok Chito

Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police

46/10

Heum Yan

Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police

47/11

Touch Narot

Deputy Supreme Commissioner of National Police; Chairman, Bodyguard Directorate

48/12

Hing Bunheang

General; Deputy Supreme Commander of RCAF; Commander of the Prime Minister's Bodyguard Unit

49/13

It Sarat

General; Deputy Supreme Commander of RCAF

50/14

Chhin Chanpoar

Lieutenant General; Deputy Supreme Commander of RCAF

51/15

Kim Bunthan

Lieutenant General; Deputy Supreme Commander of RCAF

52/16

Tie Vinh

Admiral; Commander of the Navy

53/17

Hun Manet

Lieutenant General; Deputy Chief of the Mixed General Staff; Deputy Commander of the Army; Commander of the Counter-Terrorism Special Forces

54/18

Nop Rattana

Lieutenant General; Deputy Chief of the Mixed General Staff; Commander, Artillery Headquarters

55/19

Srey Doek

Lieutenant General; Deputy Chief of the Mixed General Staff; Commander of Intervention Division 3

56/20

Keo Thy

Lieutenant General; Deputy Chief of the Mixed General Staff; Commander of Intervention Division 2

57/21

Prum Pheng

Lieutenant General; Commander, Intervention Brigade 1

58/22

Phang Yot

Lieutenant General; Commander, Intervention Brigade 11

59/23

Sem Sovanny

Lieutenant General, Supreme Director, National Center for Peace-Keeping Forces

60/24

Vong Pisen

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander and Chief of the General Staff, National Gendarmerie

61/25

Chan Lumphat

Lieutenant General; Deputy Chief of the Mixed General Staff

62/26

Ses Vongsetha

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander and Chief of State of the Air Force

63/27

Pin Narit

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the Air Force

64/28

Chau Tol

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the Prime Minister's Bodyguard Unit

65/29

Dieng Sarun

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the Army; Deputy Commander of the Prime Minister's Bodyguard Unit

66/30

Prak Sovanna

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the Army

67/31

Teng Chhuon

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the National Gendarmerie

68/32

Prak Set

Lieutenant General; Deputy Commander of the National Gendarmerie

69/33

Sin Sophanny

Lieutenant General, Deputy Commander of the National Gendarmerie

70/34

Srun Saroeun

Vice-Admiral; Deputy Commander of the Navy; Commander of Coastal and Island Defense Brigade 31

71/35

Uk Seiha

Vice-Admiral; Deputy Commander of the Navy; Commander of the Ream Naval Base

72/36

Van Bunlieng

Vice-Admiral; Deputy Commander and Chief of the Navy General Staff

73/37

In Sidara

Major General; Commander of Infantry Brigade 21 (Military Region 2)

74/38

Kung Bunthan

Major General; Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of Military Region 3

75/39

Peou Heng

Major General; Deputy Commander and Chief of the General Staff of Military Region 4

76/40

Neang Khim

Major General; Commander of Infantry Brigade 41 (Military Region 4)

77/41

Pen Vauy

Major General; Commander of Infantry Brigade 42 (Military Region 4)

78/42

Ek Sam-aun

Major General; Deputy Commander and Chief of the General Staff of Military Region 5

79/43

Chhoeun Sarit

Major General; Commander of Infantry Brigade 51 (Military Region 5)

80/44

Mey Soenghan

Major General; Commander of Infantry Brigade 52 (Military Region 5)

81/45

Chea Phuongphirum

Major General; Commander of Infantry Brigade 53 (Military Region 5)

82/46

Pou Sabutdy

Major General; Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of the Special Military Region

83/47

Sorn Sea

Major General; Commander of Intervention Brigade 4 (Intervention Division 2)

84/48

Samreut Saret

Major General; Commander of Intervention Brigade 5 (Intervention Division 2)

85/49

Chhum Kheng

Major General; Commander of Intervention Brigade 6 (Intervention Division 2)

86/50

Ou Narin

Major General; Deputy Commander of Intervention Division 3

87/51

Duong Samnieng

Major General; Commander of Intervention Brigade 7 (Intervention Division 3)

88/52

Ly Sun

Major General; Commander of Intervention Brigade 8 (Intervention Division 3)

89/53

Duong Chan

Major General; Commander of Intervention Brigade 9 (Intervention Division 3)

90/54

Keum Sengngorn

Major General; Commander of Intervention Brigade 14

91/55

Uch Vantha

Major General; Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army and Commander of the Army Engineers

92/56

Rat Sreang

Major General; Deputy Commander of the National Gendarmerie; Commander of the Phnom Penh Gendarmerie

93/57

Hul Sam-aun

Major General; Commander of Logistics Brigade 99

94/58

Nuon Neou

Lieutenant General; Commander of Unified Battlefront 2

95/59

Chhor Sok

Major General; Commander, Logistics Brigade 90

96/60

Kim Reuthy

Major General; Deputy Chief of the Mixed General Staff

97/61

Hun Manit

Colonel, Deputy Chief, Directorate of Military Research and Intelligence of the RCAF Supreme Command

98/62

Bun Lert

Chairman, Koh Kong Province Unified Command Committee

99/63

Ut Sam-orn

Chairman, Kampong Thom Province Unified Command Committee

100/64

Chhuor Chandoeun

Chairman, Kampong Chhnang Province Unified Command Committee

101/65

Chan Sophal

Chairman, Battambang Province Unified Command Committee

102/66

Khim Bunsong

Chairman, Siem Reap Province Unified Command Committee;

103/67

Sar Chamrong

Chairman, Kratie Province Unified Command Committee

104/68

Sar Thavy

Chairman, Oddar Meanchey Province Unified Command Committee

105/69

Pa Socheatevong

Chairman, Phnom Penh Municipality Unified Command Committee

106/70

Um Mara

Chairman, Preah Vihear Province Unified Command Committee

107/71

Kol Sam-ol

Chairman, Steung Trang Province Unified Command Committee

108/72

Kaosum Saroeut

Chairman, Banteay Meanchey Province Unified Command Committee

109/73

Lun Leumthay

Chairman, Kampong Cham Province Unified Command Committee

110/74

Eng Bunheang

Chairman, Mondulkiri Province Unified Command Committee

111/75

Thang Savun

Chairman, Rattanakiri Province Unified Command Committee

112/76

Mao Phirun

Chairman, Kandal Province Unified Command Committee

113/77

Mao Thornin

Chairman, Posat Province Unified Command Committee

114/78

Lay Vannak

Chairman, Takeo Province Unified Command Committee

115/79

Hoas Saret

Chairman, Prey Veng Province Unified Command Committee

116/80

Kaoet Sothea

Chairman, Pailin Province Unified Command Committee