of injustice in
Cambodian Prisoner Crisis Center
On June 8, five police from the Siem Reap Juvenile and Anti-trafficking section and at least half a dozen Cambodian Women's Crisis Center (CWCC) officials arrived at the village in Siem Reap where the families of women who recanted their allegations of sexual abuse against Australians Bart Lauwaert and Clinton Rex Betterridge at appeal last Thursday live.
Witnesses and sources who claim they are too afraid to be identified by name say they saw CWCC officials (including a CWCC lawyer) direct police to single out Khoeun Savy, now aged 18.
The sources believe this is because Savy was named in an Associated Press (AP) report of the men's appeal as one of nine women originally claiming sexual abuse and 17 witnesses in total who appeared last Thursday at Phnom Penh Appeals Court and either retracted their complaints against the men and/or accused the CWCC of abuse and attacks on their basic human rights.
Witnesses allege they did not see police produce a warrant or any other papers before ordering Savy onto a police motorbike and taking her to that branch's headquarters in Siem Reap town.
The mother and father of the girl say they were forced to follow on a motorbike taxi they paid for themselves, but were denied access to their daughter upon their arrival at the police station.
Savy alleges she was locked in a
cell and placed under fierce interrogation for four hours. Questions included
the license plate number of the van which brought her to the
She said she answered all these
questions either by saying she did not know or that she was merely complying
with an official court order to appear on that day in the
After interrogation she says she was allowed to leave by police and CWCC officials but was not afforded transport home, nor told the purpose of the interrogation or if she or others would be detained again in the future.
Villagers are now reportedly "extremely frightened" and have requested outsiders visit the village to provide moral and legal support because they have retracted the original claims they say the CWCC forced them to make.
They say they will file a legal complaint and apply for a restraining order against the CWCC. Some parents report that they are afraid to leave their children at home to go to work for fear that they will return to find them in police and/or CWCC custody.
More than one source claimed there
had been a "threatening" CWCC presence in the village ever since
the 17 witnesses returned home from the
The villagers say the methods employed in the past week feel eerily similar to the methods which prompted them to comply to CWCC pressure to testify against the two former English teachers originally in 2002.