UN Wants Independent Ley Investigation

Source : Khmer Times / Friday, 15 July 2016 by Taing Vida

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Chum Hout and Chum Hour said they were forced to leave Cambodia because they needed to ensure their safety. Supplied

A group of United Nations human rights experts have condemned the murder of Cambodian political analyst and social activist Key Ley and called for an impartial investigation by an independent body with no ties to the government.
In a statement released in Geneva and obtained yesterday, UN human rights experts said, “the circumstances of Mr. Kem Ley’s death have given rise to deep concerns in view of his standing as critic of the government and his regular comments in the media highlighting governance and human rights concerns.”
They called on the government to urgently implement effective protection measures to ensure the safety of activists exercising their right to free speech.
“This shooting exemplifies an alarming negative trend in Cambodia whereby political activists and human rights defenders are facing increasing restrictions to exercise human rights and fundamental freedom,” the experts said.
On the National Police website, Keat Chantharith, the deputy national police commissioner and spokesman, said citizens should have more faith in the police force to investigate the case and find the perpetrators of the murder.
“Mr. Ley’s case is painful for people, including police, and it has affected our honor,” he said. “So the police force has been active in this investigation and we will find justice for the victims and will enhance the honor of the National Police.”
Mr. Ley, who was shot and killed at a gas station cafe on Sunday, was the founder of the grassroots organization Khmer for Khmer and a prominent political commentator who frequently criticized the government.
The gunman was arrested soon after the shooting and confessed to killing Mr. Ley. The gunman initially gave police a fake name meaning “meet to kill” in Khmer, and told them he killed Mr. Ley because of an outstanding $3,000 debt owed to him.
After being questioned for a day and a half, the gunman was charged under articles 200 and 409 of the Penal Code. Police were able to track down the origin of the weapon used, and charged the person with “selling weapons without authorization.”
Many have alleged that the government was behind the assassination, as Mr. Ley had spoken out days before his death on a Global Witness report tying Prime Minister Hun Sen and his children to many of the largest corporations in Cambodia.
Two twin brothers working as environmental activists who claimed to have had a close relationship with Mr. Ley fled the country yesterday, saying they felt their lives were in danger.
In Facebook posts yesterday, Chum Hout and Chum Hour said they were forced to leave Cambodia because they needed to ensure their safety.
“Goodbye Cambodia. We are not secure right now. We are in one hidden place,” they wrote.
The two men reportedly met with officials at the US Embassy yesterday to discuss Mr. Ley’s murder.
Mr. Ley’s brother, Kem Rithysith, said yesterday that the body will be taken from Wat Chas pagoda at 7am on July 17 to be stored at his home in Leay Bor commune, Takeo province.

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