The Culture of Impunity in Cambodia

In Cambodia, this is how it goes:

After a sexual assault, a traffic accident, an acid attack, a gross safety neglect that lead to injuries or deaths, compensations are made involving negotiation facilitated by the police then the case is closed. No further prosecution from the prosecutor.

I am taking steps to address this issue by taking up some selected cases to the President of the Supreme Council of a Magistracy, His Majesty the King.

These cases will be crimes committed by the armed forces or people in power.

This is a campaign that will involve the following steps:

1/ to start a prosecution process by the prosecutor after compensation is made;

2/ to engage the public in reporting crimes;

3/ to engage the public in monitoring court procedures;

4/ to educate the public about Impunity;

Unless we stand up and speak out, Impunity will continue part of the culture.

The Prime Minister has spoken and expressed his political determination. Let’s help him in this daunting task.

My functions and rights as oversight are determined in the Constitution.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30324424

7 December 2014 Last updated at 16:33 ET
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Cambodia’s culture of impunity: What price for a life?

By Kevin Doyle
Phnom Penh

Earlier this year, karaoke parlour singer, Sam Yin, 29, was shot dead by a police officer. 

He escaped – but then resurfaced in August as a free man. He had reached a deal, it was reported, with the court, which closed the case after he paid $1,500 (£960) to Sam Yin’s relatives.

“I heard about the compensation, but I can’t confirm it,” Takeo province’s deputy police chief Suon Phon said in September.

Officers could only be dispatched to apprehend the suspected killer when the court issued an arrest warrant, the deputy police chief said, adding this week that he has yet to receive one.

“I don’t know what happened because everything has been done at the provincial court.”

In Cambodia, a small cash payment is often the most people can hope for when the rich and powerful are involved – and cases such as Sam Yin are far from unique. 

Most policemen don’t do anything… Some, when they are drunk, are very noisy and a little crazy”

Lak Youry
Cambodian singer

Shootings of women in Cambodia’s entertainment sector were so frequent in 2006 that an opposition MP wrote to the defence and interior ministries demanding prosecutions.

In the weeks prior to his letter, police officers and soldiers had shot and wounded three beer promotion workers and a karaoke singer in separate incidents. 

In one of those cases, a soldier shot a woman because she was too slow to bring ice for his drink.

Responding at the time, Defence Minister Tea Banh said the incident had been dealt with.

“Both the victim and my officials have a mutual understanding,” he told a local newspaper, using the euphemism for paying cash compensation to circumvent justice.

‘Gentle’ friend
On a quiet Sunday morning in Takeo town, singer Lak Youry has a few hours free before returning to work at the karaoke parlour where she worked with Sam Yin.

This was where Sam Yin had lived before she was shot dead earlier this year
Sam Yin “was very gentle”, the 22-year-old said, recounting how they had gone to the beach the day her friend was killed. 

The police officer, Sin Pov, 48, was furious that Sam Yin, his mistress, had gone on the day trip without his permission.

Three witnesses told of seeing the officer kick at the metal door to the tiny concrete room where Sam Yin lived with her 10-year-old son.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

It is the fault of individuals; the government does not allow it to happen”

Lt-Gen Kirth Chantharith 
National Police spokesman
Sam Yin would not unlock the door until the officer cooled down. He stopped kicking. She unbolted the door and within seconds there was a gunshot. 

The office was last seen walking from the room, getting on his police motorcycle and driving away.

Lak Youry said that authorities with guns were part of the karaoke scene.

“Most policemen don’t do anything. They just have their guns but don’t take them out. Some, when they are drunk, are very noisy and a little crazy,” she said.

A touch of fear, and keeping it under control, was part of the job, added Yong Srey Pov, 25, another singer.

Escaping justice?
Impunity enjoyed by the rich and powerful helps explain a lack of public trust in Cambodia’s judicial and law enforcement institutions. 

There is a lack of public trust in Cambodia’s law and judicial bodies
Anti-corruption monitor Transparency International reported in 2013 that Cambodia’s judiciary “was perceived to be the most corrupt institution out of 12 public institutions reviewed”.

Police officers fared no better. Bribery of officers was “widespread across the country,” Transparency reported, noting that 65% of respondents reported paying a police office a bribe in the previous 12 months.

In a 24 September statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN human rights envoy to Cambodia Surya Subedi said the list of impunity cases was “long and growing”.

“Little has been done to bring perpetrators to justice,” he said.

It is not just the rural karaoke clubs that are affected – famous entertainers have also been targeted. 

Cambodia’s Royal Ballet star Piseth Pilika was shot and killed in 1999. 

In 2003, popular singer Touch Srey Nich was left paralysed after a shooting attack that also killed her mother. Another singer, Pov Panhapich, was left paralysed by a gunman’s bullets in 2007.

Cambodian singer Pov Panhapich was left paralysed after she was shot by a gunman in 2007
No one has ever been held accountable for the attacks, which police commonly attribute to “revenge”. 

Among the public, rumours swirl of political motives or affairs with powerful officials and retribution by their vengeful wives.

More widely, a list of impunity cases should also include garment factory protesters killed by the security forces earlier this year, victims of a grenade attack on an opposition party rally in 1997, widespread land grabbing from the poor, and victims of hit-and-runs involving the rich and connected.

‘No justice’
National Police spokesman Lieutenant General Kirth Chantharith denies there is a culture of impunity in Cambodia.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

There is no real avenue for Cambodian victims to obtain fair and meaningful justice in Cambodian courts when cases are brought against the ruling elite”

Richard Rogers
British lawyer
“‘Culture’ means everybody is happy to do it. It means the police and the court like to do it,” he said. “I accept it is happening. But it is the fault of individuals. The government does not allow it to happen.”

Sar Mora, president of the Cambodia Food and Service Workers’ Federation, has set up a hotline workers in the entertainment sector can call for help after an incident.

The union helps to prepare complaints for prosecution – but often that is as far as it goes, because the victims do not want to take on the rich. 

“They do not believe or trust that they will get justice,” he said. “They just accept money and go away.”

British lawyer Richard J. Rogers is now seeking to internationalise the issue of impunity. He has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Cambodia’s “ruling elite”, alleging “systematic land grabbing” over 14 years that has “adversely affected” some 770,000 Cambodians.

Government officials have dismissed the complaint, saying the figures are inaccurate and the facts erroneous.

Mr Rogers said the ICC “is the Cambodian people’s last resort to obtain justice and escape the cycle of human rights abuses and impunity”.

“There is no real avenue for Cambodian victims to obtain fair and meaningful justice in Cambodian courts when cases are brought against the ruling elite,” he said.

Chhai Veasna, 45, who lives a few doors from the room where Sam Yin was killed in March, agreed.

“If I can say it bluntly: there is no justice,” he said. “We feel very sorry that the woman was killed and [the police officer] got away free.”

(Additional reporting by Van Roeun and Phorn Bopha)

Promoting Fair Trial

King asks ministry to probe judge

Mon, 15 December 2014
Meas Sokchea and Kevin Ponniah
The Phnom Penh Post

Activist Ouch Pich Samnang is escorted by authorities as he appears at the Phnom Penh appeals court on Friday. Heng Chivoan

King Norodom Sihamoni has asked Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana to investigate the conduct of Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge Keo Mony after he questioned a political activist last month without his lawyer present.

Mony failed to notify the lawyer of detained political activist Ouch Pich Samnang when questioning him on November 18 about an opposition-led protest at Freedom Park in July that turned violent and has seen more than a dozen party members since charged in connection with it.

Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Mu Sochua wrote to the King – who serves as president of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, which oversees judges and prosecutors – on December 3 to complain that Samnang had been questioned for 30 minutes without his lawyer present.

On December 5, in a letter obtained by the Post yesterday, the King wrote to Vong Vathana, who also sits on the council, asking him to investigate.

“I would [like] to send this case to your excellency to inspect in accordance with the procedure,” the King wrote.

The Supreme Council of Magistracy can take disciplinary action against judges and prosecutors if they are deemed to have breached their code of conduct. However, under a controversial new law passed earlier this year, it is up to the Minister of Justice to decide after preliminary investigation whether the case is forwarded to the disciplinary council or not.

Vong Vathana could not be reached yesterday. Sam Prachea Manith, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, and Kem Santepheap, spokesman of the Justice Ministry, declined to comment.

Keo Mony hung up on a reporter when asked about the case.

Sochua said yesterday that many online commentators were “very surprised as well as supportive and encouraged” that the King had intervened.

She added, however, that the move should not be considered “political”, given it was in line with his constitutional role. Nonetheless, Sochua praised the King for acting on her call.

“It’s very encouraging that his majesty is playing this role and we will see how far we can push. At least it’s a signal that it’s not going to be business as usual and that is my intention,” she said.

Veteran political commentator Lao Mong Hay, who was recently appointed an adviser to deputy opposition leader and parliament first deputy president Kem Sokha, said it was not the first time the King had made such an intervention.

But, Mong Hay cautioned, the government may not approve.

“We need to wait and see whether the reaction is positive or negative, as I remember at least on one occasion [when the King intervened] it was not positive.”

Choung Choungy, Samnang’s lawyer, said he was very happy with the King’s request.

“[Keo Mony’s] questioning [of Samnang] was wrong because I am his lawyer, so the judge has to invite me to be there,” he said.

“I asked him why he didn’t invite me but he could not answer.”

Separately, the Phnom Penh court has announced that 10 men hit with a variety of charges in connection with the July 15 protest, including Samnang, will have their cases heard on December 25, according to lawyers representing them.

The defendants include CNRP information head Meach Sovannara, who was denied bail by the Appeal Court on Friday, and a number of other party members.

Seven lawmakers also charged will not have their cases heard as they have parliamentary immunity.

Cambodia Lost a True Patriot

Mr. Chan Saveth was gentle in his approach although he took up the most difficult cases and had to face the threats from authorities. His mission to defend human rights and justice was noble, widely supported and recognized.

It is significant that he died on Human Rights Day after witnessing a peaceful end of the Walk for Human Rights led by young buddhist monks, trained in non- violence.

Paying homage to a True Patriot, Chan Saveth.

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https://www.mediafire.com/?u44dmt04nm282jb

Blood Sugar

It has taken the EU from denial of human rights abuse, to years of silence and finally some rays of hope.

EU to probe sugar disputes

Tue, 9 December 2014
Daniel Pye
The Phnom Penh Post

Labourers harvest sugar cane at a plantation in an economic land concession in Kampong Speu’s Thpong district in April. Koam Chanrasmey
Cambodia has taken a “crucial step towards justice” by launching a reparations program for thousands of villagers who were forcibly evicted to make way for industrial sugar plantations, according to campaigners.

Resettlement experts hired by the European Commission will draft a scheme to assess the claims of thousands of villagers who were evicted with little or no compensation to make way for sugar plantations in Kampong Speu, Koh Kong and Oddar Meanchey provinces.

“The EU will fund technical expertise to develop a mechanism to audit claims in relation to sugarcane plantations in Cambodia, and ensure the implementation of any remedial measures that are found necessary,” the EU said in a statement yesterday.

The move towards reparations, which followed a February meeting where senior government officials, sugar companies and the EU agreed to work towards a resolution, was welcomed by villagers and campaigners.

Chan Sokhoeun, a representative of the Thpong community in Kampong Speu province’s Omlaing commune, said the villagers’ living standards had dropped significantly since their land was taken by ruling Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat’s Phnom Penh Sugar company.

“We now work on [what was] our own farmland as slave workers for the sugar company,” he said.

More than 2,500 families like Sokhoeun’s were forcibly evicted to make way for sugar plantation developments in recent years.

Tycoon Yong Phat owns several businesses at the centre of the disputes over what rights groups have labelled “blood sugar”.

The Post discovered children as young as 7 years old working on a plantation owned by the businessman in early 2013. After the use of child labour was revealed, the company sought to end the practice, which it blamed on sub-contractors. The plantation was financed with loans from ANZ Royal Bank, which severed ties with Phnom Penh Sugar months later.

Most evictees were left landless or given new plots that cannot support farming.

Seng Nhak, director of Phnom Penh Sugar, yesterday said the company welcomed the audit. “Phnom Penh Sugar has already been in discussion with the government and the EU and fully supports an independent and objective assessment,” he said.

According to the Clean Sugar Campaign, the EU-led assessment will seek to “ensure redress for … compensation deficits” and “the restoration of pre-project living standards and income levels” for affected people.

In January, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the bloc’s executive body to urgently act on a preferential trade scheme called Everything But Arms (EBA), which campaigners said in a statement yesterday had “incentivised an extremely abusive industry”.

“We hope that this will be a step towards justice for thousands of Cambodian people who have suffered from land grabbing and resources destruction,” said Eang Vuthy, executive director of Equitable Cambodia.

The “EU has an obligation to ensure that its policy, including trade, doses not contribute to human rights violations and destruction of the environment”, he added. “If the appropriate resolution can not be reached, the EU must take firm action to correct this situation.”

Following the reports of abuses at a Koh Kong plantation run by a Thai sugar company, drinks giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola said that they would adopt a “zero tolerance” approach to land grabs.

Representatives of PepsiCo and Coca-Cola did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

The dispute over Yong Phat’s Kampong Speu plantation prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s younger sister, Hun Sinath, last week, purportedly because she was frustrated by the lack of action against Yong Phat over the alleged abuses.

Sokhoeun, of the Thpong community, urged the EU’s experts to meet with villagers while they prepare for the assessment.

“If they only talk to the company and local authorities, they will not help to solve our land dispute,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

Building a Culture of Dialogue

Some similiarties to Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk To Freedom.

Mandela never gave up hope during the years on Robben Island. From his book Long Walk to Freedom:

….”we had won a host of small battles that added up to a change in the atmosphere on the island. While we did not run the island, the authorities could not run it without us….”

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/premiers-speech

Prime Minister Hun Sen addresses students at a graduate ceremony last week in Phnom Penh, where he made comments about imbalance in the current government. Heng Chivoan

The premier’s speech

Tue, 9 December 2014
Kevin Ponniah and Meas Sokchea
Analysis

Prime Minister Hun Sen is known for his circuitous and colourful speeches. But one oration he delivered last week continues to draw cautious praise from a segment of the audience that is usually immune to his charms – the opposition.

Optimism is high in the Cambodia National Rescue Party that the past few months of political wheeling and dealing with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has led to what appears to be increasingly genuine commitment from Prime Minister Hun Sen to try and tackle critical national issues in a bipartisan manner.

Aside from a recent decision to officially recognise minority parties and a minority leader in parliament that can engage in “dialogue” with him, they are also pointing to last Monday’s speech, which is being characterised as unprecedented by many long-time Cambodia watchers.

Speaking to graduating university students in Phnom Penh, minus some of his usual bravado, Hun Sen outlined 12 points of “imbalance” in the Kingdom that have frequently been cited by government critics, and admitted that the number of key problem areas faced by policymakers had expanded under his watch.

These ranged from monetary policy challenges and a trade deficit to weak infrastructure and low wages. The premier focused heavily on the country’s poor human resources, pointing out that while a lack of jobs is causing migration, there remains a shortage of workers in certain places and in certain industries.

While quick, high-quality service provision is desperately needed, Hun Sen continued, “institutions are responding slowly and ineffectively”.

“It is necessary that there are reforms relating to governance [and] relating to the judiciary, [because] they have not responded to the needs,” he said.

Referring to all 12 points as a whole, Hun Sen suggested his CPP and the judiciary, which is considered by observers to be politically subservient, were to blame.

“It is not the legislative body, but it is the executive body and the judiciary framework,” he said.

Senior opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua said it was the first time in her more than 20-year political career that she had heard Hun Sen so candidly “taking into consideration the reality of Cambodia”.

“I think the whole country, [all the] people that have been trying to put across that message feel relieved that the message is getting across,” she said.

“This is a shift in his mindset,” Sochua added, pointing out that many of the points mentioned in the speech had been raised by the opposition days before during a 10-hour debate on the national budget at which the CPP were “very receptive”.

At this time last year, the Cambodia National Rescue Party was leading street rallies calling for Hun Sen to step down, which eventually culminated in the violent dismantling of its protest encampment at Freedom Park and a brutal crackdown on striking garment workers.

With the CNRP having taken its seats in parliament following July’s political deal, thereby removing both the threat of a revolution and the stigma of Cambodia having a one-party assembly, Sochua suggested Hun Sen felt more comfortable to engage with them.

“We are not threatening to overthrow the government, that message is not there anymore. It’s a message of a constructive minority with very clear alternatives,” she said.

Opposition deputy leader Kem Sokha, however, has kept up the rhetoric, saying recently that the CNRP could be back in the streets if its election reform demands are not met.

Such statements have earned him censure from Hun Sen, who threatened last week that he could be voted out as first deputy president of the National Assembly.

But party leader Sam Rainsy, who will soon become minority leader in parliament, said yesterday that last Monday’s speech from Hun Sen “represents an encouraging sign that there could be a desire for dialogue and openness on the part of the government about critical issues facing this country”.

“It could be the basis for an effective and constructive dialogue between the majority and the minority on ways and means to fix those issues of national interest,” he said in an email.

Ouk Serei Sopheak, a freelance consultant on good governance, said that while the speech contained similar elements to others made by Hun Sen since his party’s shock loss of 22 parliamentary seats at last July’s election, it was the first time such a comprehensive roster of economic problems had been laid out.

“It looks like a serious study has been conducted by the government and the note has been recently submitted to the prime minister, and so in terms of the whole package and coming with sincerity like this, it’s new,” he said.

But because the structural issues highlighted will take years to address, the CPP cannot expect to recoup votes at the ballot box until Cambodians see notable changes and improved local service delivery in areas like health, education and infrastructure, Serei Sopheak added.

The last election result, he said, means not just Hun Sen but the whole CPP leadership were becoming “more humble” as the 2017 commune and 2018 national elections loom.

And while the party, through its network, knows the reality of how people feel on the ground, whether the CPP has the political will to deal with their grievances is another matter, he said.

“Now it seems like the back of the CPP leaders is against the wall.… If they want to win the election, they have to respond to these demands, some mentioned by NGOs, some by the CNRP, but already mentioned and demanded by the people themselves.”

San Chey of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific said that with ASEAN integration coming, “the government must accelerate in listening to NGOs and must have a specific plan to respond in time”.

Spokespeople for Hun Sen could not be reached for comment, but Ros Chantrabot, an academic and adviser to the premier, said the CPP was trying to adapt to a globalised world.

“[Hun Sen] wants the CPP to reform to the situation.… It has let more young professionals and intellectuals into the ranks.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHARLES ROLLET

Dhamayatra Day 9

Dhamayatra Peace Walk prevented to go forward by mixed military police, militia and police in civilian clothes at Samrong commune, Samrong district, Kandal province. Head monk is now preaching to 60 police along National Road 5. We are about 20 KMs from Phnom Penh.

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As We Approach the 66 th International Human Rights Day

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30324424

7 December 2014 Last updated at 16:33 ET
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Cambodia’s culture of impunity: What price for a life?

By Kevin Doyle
Phnom Penh

Sam Yin (pictured far left) is remembered by her friends for her gentleness
Continue reading the main story
Related Stories

Cambodia profile
Cambodia: Were the trials worth it?
Earlier this year, karaoke parlour singer, Sam Yin, 29, was shot dead by a police officer.

He escaped – but then resurfaced in August as a free man. He had reached a deal, it was reported, with the court, which closed the case after he paid $1,500 (£960) to Sam Yin’s relatives.

“I heard about the compensation, but I can’t confirm it,” Takeo province’s deputy police chief Suon Phon said in September.

Officers could only be dispatched to apprehend the suspected killer when the court issued an arrest warrant, the deputy police chief said, adding this week that he has yet to receive one.

“I don’t know what happened because everything has been done at the provincial court.”

In Cambodia, a small cash payment is often the most people can hope for when the rich and powerful are involved – and cases such as Sam Yin are far from unique.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

Most policemen don’t do anything… Some, when they are drunk, are very noisy and a little crazy”

Lak Youry
Cambodian singer
Shootings of women in Cambodia’s entertainment sector were so frequent in 2006 that an opposition MP wrote to the defence and interior ministries demanding prosecutions.

In the weeks prior to his letter, police officers and soldiers had shot and wounded three beer promotion workers and a karaoke singer in separate incidents.

In one of those cases, a soldier shot a woman because she was too slow to bring ice for his drink.

Responding at the time, Defence Minister Tea Banh said the incident had been dealt with.

“Both the victim and my officials have a mutual understanding,” he told a local newspaper, using the euphemism for paying cash compensation to circumvent justice.

‘Gentle’ friend
On a quiet Sunday morning in Takeo town, singer Lak Youry has a few hours free before returning to work at the karaoke parlour where she worked with Sam Yin.

This was where Sam Yin had lived before she was shot dead earlier this year
Sam Yin “was very gentle”, the 22-year-old said, recounting how they had gone to the beach the day her friend was killed.

The police officer, Sin Pov, 48, was furious that Sam Yin, his mistress, had gone on the day trip without his permission.

Three witnesses told of seeing the officer kick at the metal door to the tiny concrete room where Sam Yin lived with her 10-year-old son.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

It is the fault of individuals; the government does not allow it to happen”

Lt-Gen Kirth Chantharith
National Police spokesman
Sam Yin would not unlock the door until the officer cooled down. He stopped kicking. She unbolted the door and within seconds there was a gunshot.

The office was last seen walking from the room, getting on his police motorcycle and driving away.

Lak Youry said that authorities with guns were part of the karaoke scene.

“Most policemen don’t do anything. They just have their guns but don’t take them out. Some, when they are drunk, are very noisy and a little crazy,” she said.

A touch of fear, and keeping it under control, was part of the job, added Yong Srey Pov, 25, another singer.

Escaping justice?
Impunity enjoyed by the rich and powerful helps explain a lack of public trust in Cambodia’s judicial and law enforcement institutions.

There is a lack of public trust in Cambodia’s law and judicial bodies
Anti-corruption monitor Transparency International reported in 2013 that Cambodia’s judiciary “was perceived to be the most corrupt institution out of 12 public institutions reviewed”.

Police officers fared no better. Bribery of officers was “widespread across the country,” Transparency reported, noting that 65% of respondents reported paying a police office a bribe in the previous 12 months.

In a 24 September statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN human rights envoy to Cambodia Surya Subedi said the list of impunity cases was “long and growing”.

“Little has been done to bring perpetrators to justice,” he said.

It is not just the rural karaoke clubs that are affected – famous entertainers have also been targeted.

Cambodia’s Royal Ballet star Piseth Pilika was shot and killed in 1999.

In 2003, popular singer Touch Srey Nich was left paralysed after a shooting attack that also killed her mother. Another singer, Pov Panhapich, was left paralysed by a gunman’s bullets in 2007.

Cambodian singer Pov Panhapich was left paralysed after she was shot by a gunman in 2007
No one has ever been held accountable for the attacks, which police commonly attribute to “revenge”.

Among the public, rumours swirl of political motives or affairs with powerful officials and retribution by their vengeful wives.

More widely, a list of impunity cases should also include garment factory protesters killed by the security forces earlier this year, victims of a grenade attack on an opposition party rally in 1997, widespread land grabbing from the poor, and victims of hit-and-runs involving the rich and connected.

‘No justice’
National Police spokesman Lieutenant General Kirth Chantharith denies there is a culture of impunity in Cambodia.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

There is no real avenue for Cambodian victims to obtain fair and meaningful justice in Cambodian courts when cases are brought against the ruling elite”

Richard Rogers
British lawyer
“‘Culture’ means everybody is happy to do it. It means the police and the court like to do it,” he said. “I accept it is happening. But it is the fault of individuals. The government does not allow it to happen.”

Sar Mora, president of the Cambodia Food and Service Workers’ Federation, has set up a hotline workers in the entertainment sector can call for help after an incident.

The union helps to prepare complaints for prosecution – but often that is as far as it goes, because the victims do not want to take on the rich.

“They do not believe or trust that they will get justice,” he said. “They just accept money and go away.”

British lawyer Richard J. Rogers is now seeking to internationalise the issue of impunity. He has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Cambodia’s “ruling elite”, alleging “systematic land grabbing” over 14 years that has “adversely affected” some 770,000 Cambodians.

Government officials have dismissed the complaint, saying the figures are inaccurate and the facts erroneous.

Mr Rogers said the ICC “is the Cambodian people’s last resort to obtain justice and escape the cycle of human rights abuses and impunity”.

“There is no real avenue for Cambodian victims to obtain fair and meaningful justice in Cambodian courts when cases are brought against the ruling elite,” he said.

Chhai Veasna, 45, who lives a few doors from the room where Sam Yin was killed in March, agreed.

“If I can say it bluntly: there is no justice,” he said. “We feel very sorry that the woman was killed and [the police officer] got away free.”

(Additional reporting by Van Roeun and Phorn Bopha)