Disgraced ex-governor’s promotion called a ‘bad example’ for Cambodia

Chhouk Bandith was convicted of shooting 3 female garment workers in 2012.
By RFA Khmer Service
Chhouk Bandith’s attorney, Kay Visal, speaks to reporters following an appeals hearing at a courthouse in southeastern Cambodia's Svay Rieng province, Nov. 4, 2013.

Unions and NGOs criticized Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government for promoting a former district governor convicted of shooting three female garment workers a decade ago to a senior position in the Interior Ministry.

A decree dated March 18 promoting Chhouk Bandith, the former governor of Bavet city in Svay Rieng province, to the senior ranks of government was released publicly on Thursday. The decree did not state his new position.

Chhouk Bandith was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay 38 million riel (U.S. $9,500) in compensation to the victims, who had been protesting poor factory conditions in February 2012 when they were wounded in the shooting. 

Rong Chhun, president of the independent Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said Chhouk Bandith’s promotion might encourage others to use violence to quell criticism. 

“This is a bad example for our society because Chhouk Bandith committed many bad acts,” he told RFA. “We don’t want to see this promotion happen in Cambodia.”

Ny Sokha, president of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, an NGO, also urged the ministry to reconsider.

“Senior officials must set a good example for younger generations,” he said. “Will this promotion of a former convict be a good example?” 

Chhouk Bandith remained at large for a time after his conviction, prompting rights groups to speculate that he was under the protection of top officials. In November 2013, an appeals court upheld his 18-month jail sentence and the restitution to the garment workers, according to an earlier RFA report

He later turned himself in after Hun Sen ordered his capture, served time in jail, and was released in 2015.

RFA could not reach government spokesman Phay Siphan on Friday for comment on the ex-governor’s new role in the ministry. 

Translated by Samean Yun for RFA Khmer. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.


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