Sar Kheng warns against torture of detained suspects

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Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said at an induction ceremony for newly inaugurated members of the National Committee Against Torture. Sar Kheng via Facebook

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Monday reminded relevant officials not to torture detained individuals to extract information as it constitutes a human rights violation.

At an induction ceremony for newly inaugurated members of the National Committee Against Torture, Sar Kheng said extracting information from individuals accused of wrongdoing is important to serving justice.

But, he said, it must be procured in a just manner. Torture and degrading treatment, he stressed, are not necessary means to be used against detainees.

“Such actions are illegal and seriously violate human rights. It affects the person’s integrity, causes pain, and could lead to endless vengeance against each other,” he said.

He said the anti-torture committee had inspected detention centres and a small number of prison wardens did not cooperate with committee delegates, especially when torture had occurred at their facilities.

The director of the anti-torture committee, Nut Saarn, said the committee has done well but it faces challenges, such as stubborn wardens at facilities with suspected irregularities.

“After the committee created a workshop to raise awareness and issued guidance, we noticed improvements in the treatment of detainees around the Kingdom,” Saarn said.

The ministry said as of July 10, there are 39,316 detainees at 28 detention centres in the Kingdom, including 2,571 women. The number includes 8,900 criminal suspects, 4,649 accused, 14,817 convicts and 10,950 prisoners.

Cambodia Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) executive director Chak Sopheap said on Tuesday that Cambodia had ratified the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which prohibits torture by State authorities.

Sopheap said despite the legal protections, torture still occurred in detention centres and more needed to be done to prevent it.

“Between November 1, last year, and July 31, through our monitoring of 148 defendants at randomly selected Court of Appeal trials, CCHR recorded 5.4 per cent of defendants alleging violence or torture was used to obtain a confession during investigations carried out by the judicial police,” she said.

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