Cambodia: Investigate protest killings by the security forces

Cambodian police opened fire on protesting garment workers on January 3, leaving at least three people dead © TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images

The Cambodian authorities must hold the security forces to account for today’s killing of at least four people at a protest by garment workers in the capital Phnom Penh, Amnesty International said.

Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Cambodia Researcher, said:

“Today’s tragic violence must be investigated and those responsible for deaths and injuries held to account.

“The Cambodian government has to rein in its security forces. Today’s events sadly echo other recent incidents – on at least four occasions in the past few months, security forces have used unnecessary or excessive force, including live ammunition, against protesters and bystanders.

“As with so many human rights violations in Cambodia, the lack of accountability for these incidents is a reminder of the pervasive culture of impunity in the country. There must be root and branch change to ensure the perpetrators of violations are brought to book.

“All sides need to exercise restraint, particularly given the current levels of tension in Cambodia. The broad protests now seem larger than ever before - we certainly haven't seen anything like this for over 15 years.”

Under international law, if an assembly turns violent, the security forces are only allowed to use such force as is strictly necessary for the performance of their duty. The intentional lethal use of firearms can only be justified if it is strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.

In recent weeks, thousands of people have been protesting in Cambodia over garment factory wages and the political situation following the disputed election in July.

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