Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Ex-Bavet Governor Who Shot at Protestors Promoted To Senior Interior Ministry Position

Former Bavet governor Chhouk Bandith leaves court after an appeal hearing at the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh on February 27, 2013. (CamboJA/ Pring Samrang)
Former Bavet governor Chhouk Bandith leaves court after an appeal hearing at the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh on February 27, 2013. (CamboJA/ Pring Samrang)

A former Bavet governor who was jailed for injuring three people when he shot a gun into a crowd in 2012 was promoted to a senior official position at the Interior Ministry in January. Union and civil society groups are criticizing the move.

Chhouk Bandith is now deputy director general at the Interior Ministry’s General Department of Administration, according to a January 30 sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Manet and released in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday.

Bandith injured three young women garment workers, Nuth Sokhorn, Bun Chenda and Keo Nea, in February 2012 when he fired a pistol into a crowd of protesting workers at a special economic zone. He was convicted of intentional violence by Svay Rieng Provincial Court, sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $9,500 as compensation in 2013. He did not turn himself in until 2015 after former Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered his arrest, and then remained in prison until his release in 2017.

Bandith could not be reached for comment. Interior Ministry spokesperson Touch Sokhak declined to comment, saying that he was in a meeting.

The three victims of the 2012 shooting could not be reached for comment, but Sokorn’s husband, Sin Sam Oun, told CamboJA News that Bundith should not be promoted.

“I think that it is not a good thing but I don’t know what to do because they are high ranking officials,” he said. 

Khun Tharo, program coordinator for the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights, said the issue of impunity in Cambodia has led to an increase in abuse of power and corruption, worsening social justice in the country as a result. Promotions of convicted people such as Bandith “encourages that person who is found guilty to continue to commit crimes,” and causes the public to lose confidence in the Cambodian justice system, he added. 

“A person who is savage should not be promoted because when he is promoted, it encourages that person to repeat bad things,” said Cambodian Labor Confederation president Ath Thorn. “It will make people and workers unhappy.”

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