Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1986

The overriding fact in Cambodia is the ongoing struggle for
control which began in January 1979, when the Vietnamese army
drove the Khmer Rouge Communist regime of Democratic Kampuchea
out of Phnom Penh and installed its own puppet regime, the
so-called People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK), under former
Khmer Rouge division commander Heng Samrin. Vietnam, through
the Heng Samrin regime, controls most of Cambodia, including
all major cities and towns, by force of arms. Widespread
abuses of human rights in Cambodia stem largely from the
occupation presence of at least 10 Vietnamese army divisions
and a country-wide civil-military control apparatus which
maintain the Heng Samrin regime in power. This control is
challenged by a three-part Khmer resistance movement, the
Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK), which
holds Cambodia's seat at the U.N. During the 1984-85 dry
season, the Vietnamese army overran the main resistance bases
close to the Thai border. Subsequently, the resistance began
to implement a guerrilla strategy and to conduct operations
throughout Cambodia.
Vietnam has attempted to develop political and economic
institutions following the Vietnamese model in the areas under
its control. Power is restricted to the Communist Kampuchean
People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP), which is dominated by the
Communist Party of Vietnam. Vietnam seeks popular support for
the Heng Samrin regime and acceptance of its own military
occupation by highlighting the brutality of the former Khmer
Rouge regime and warning that the Khmer Rouge would return to
power if Vietnamese troops left Cambodia. Vietnam has
declared that by 1990 the process of institution-building
within the Heng Samrin regime would be completed and the
Vietnamese army would leave Cambodia. However, the growing
dissatisfaction with Vietnamese control and increasingly
effective resistance to Vietnamese occupation make it unlikely
that the Heng Samrin regime will be able to sustain itself
without Vietnamese troops for the foreseeable future.
The CGDK was formed in 1982, when two non-Communist resistance
(NCR) groups joined with the Khmer Rouge, which now has
between 40,000 and 50,000 armed men. While in power from
1975-1979, the Khmer Rouge compiled one of the worst records
of human rights violations in history as a result of a
thorough and brutal attempt at restructuring Khmer society.
The number of Khmer who died as a result of such policies was
probably at least 1 million. Since their overthrow by
Vietnam, the Khmer Rouge claim to have abandoned their radical
ideology. They are attempting to gain the favor of the Khmer
people by public support for traditional institutions such as
Buddhism and by publicizing their links with the popular
former ruler. Prince Sihanouk.
In an attempt to achieve international respect, the Khmer
Rouge formally dissolved the Communist Party of Kampuchea in
1981, and Khmer Rouge strongman Pol Pot purportedly "retired"
to an advisory role in 1985. However, the Khmer Rouge top
leadership remains in place. A number of recent incidents
have been reported in which the Khmer Rouge acted with great
brutality and no reliable evidence exists that they have given
up their ultimate goal of regaining power in Cambodia.
The Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF), which
reports approximately 14,000 men under arms, is the larger of
the two NCR groups. It is led by former Prime Minister Son
Sann and espouses parliamentary ideals of government. It was
formed in 1979 with the merger of several existing NCR groups,
many led by former soldiers from the period of the pre-1975
Khmer Republic. Lack of discipline in the KPNLF ranks
resulted in criminal attacks, extortion, and other crimes
against some Thai villagers and Khmer and Vietnamese refugees
in the Thai-Cambodian border areas.
The other NCR group and the third group in the coalition is
the National United Front for an Independent, Neutral,
Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC), headed by
Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who ruled as hereditary king and
later head of state until 1970. The appeal of this
organization centers on the Prince's international stature and
his popularity within Cambodia. The Sihanoukist National Army
(ANS) has approximately 9,000 armed soldiers.
During 1986 systematic violations of human rights continued in
Cambodia, as Vietnam relied on force to maintain its client
regime in power against the popular will. The Vietnamese
continued large-scale forced labor work projects in support of
combat operations in western Cambodia during 1986, in an
attempt to cut off infiltration by the resistance. As a
result, there have been heavy casualties due to mines and
disease, with reports of over 5,000 deaths from disease alone
in 1985. Delegations from the Lawyers Committee for Human
Rights visited resistance-controlled parts of Cambodia in
November 1984 and January-February 1985, conducting in-depth
interviews with over 150 people. Resistance authorities did
not permit them to visit Heng Samr in-controlled areas. The
Committee's report concludes that, "beyond its general and
pervasive control of expression and political thought, the
(PRK) regime has sought to stamp out opposition — both real and
imagined — with a systematic practice of arbitrary arrest,
brutal torture, and indefinite detention under degrading
conditions, at times resulting in death."
The scope of military and paramilitary activity and associated
violence by both Vietnam and the Khmer resistance groups grew
in 1986 as resistance forces increased the geographic spread
of their activities. In their fight against the Vietnamese,
the Khmer Rouge have employed terrorist tactics against Khmer
civilians, including murder and destruction of economic
resources .
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom from:
a. Political Killing
Reports of political killing in the Vietnamese-controlled
areas of Cambodia have declined since an intensive
Vietnamese/Heng Samrin internal security campaign against
suspected opponents in 1983. Khmer resistance groups continue
to report instances of Vietnamese and Heng Samrin officials
killing suspects during interrogations. Death in captivity
due to torture or other mistreatment is common, according to
the testimony of former prisoners. The Lawyers Committee also
claimed that KPNLF units had conducted summary executions.
Civilians continued to be killed in 1986 during attacks by the
Khmer Rouge on lines of communication and other economic
targets. Defectors from the Khmer Rouge report that prisoners
in Khmer Rouge jails have been killed by mines while performing
forced labor, such as transporting supplies for guerrilla
forces in Cambodia. Some former Khmer Rouge believe that
those deaths were intended by the Khmer Rouge. One former
Khmer Rouge military officer who defected in 1985 claimed that
individuals had been executed for marrying without permission.
b. Disappearance
There have been reports that Heng Samrin security officials
have been responsible for the disappearance of persons
suspected of being opponents of the regime. Although most of
those who have disappeared apparently have been imprisoned,
some may have been killed.
c. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
Physical torture has been reported both from rural areas and
from Phnom Penh prisons. The Lawyers Committee for Human
Rights reports from its 1984-1985 interviews that persons
suspected of resistance activity are "routinely tortured" in
the early months of detention by Vietnamese and Heng Samrin
officials. According to reports gathered by Amnesty
International in 1986, people suspected of being involved with
the resistance run the highest risk of torture, although
people alleged to have expressed opinions critical of the Heng
Samrin regime's policies or the role of the Vietnamese in the
country are also said to risk torture, as are those thought to
be trying to leave or return from areas under the control of
the resistance. Torture has been reported to take place
throughout the country at facilities under the control of both
the Ministry of Interior (and its subordinate civil police
forces) and the armed forces, including jails run by the
Ministry of Defense in Phnom Penh. Vietnamese "experts" are
reported to have participated in or been present during
torture at these centers, especially those at the provincial
level and above. Such "experts" are also reported to have
tortured political suspects in centers run exclusively by
Vietnamese. These include jails run by their propaganda and
education brigades in the provinces and by the head offices of
their "expert" corps in Phnom Penh.
According to Amnesty International, a variety of different
tortures are reported to have been inflicted on political
suspects detained for interrogation. The most commonly cited
are lengthy and repeated beatings and whippings. Detainees
are said to have been punched and kicked on the body, head and
extremities; struck with pistol and rifle butts, truncheons,
wooden staves with sharpened edges, and bamboo or iron bars;
and whipped with electrical or steel cables, chains, rubber
hoses, or wet gunny sacks. The victim may be tied up during
these assaults or blindfolded and hung upside down from the
ceiling with ropes.
Other reported tortures, inflicted either after or in
conjunction with sustained beatings and whippings, include
near suffocation with plastic or rubber bags, near drowning in
vats of water; application of electric shocks on the ears,
eyes, or extremities; forcing of fish sauce or soapy water up
the nose; blowing of lye powder into the eyes, nose, mouth and
lungs; extended exposure under corrugated iron to intense
heat; and the insertion of nails through the thigh muscle to
the bone. According to a number of reports, suspects have
been threatened with being shot or beaten to death during
interrogation and have been subjected to mock executions.
Both Amnesty International and the Lawyers Committee note that
detainees undergoing interrogation in centers higher than the
district level are generally held incommunicado in small and
completely lightless solitary confinement cells that are
poorly ventilated and unsanitary. They are constantly
immobilized by shackles on both legs; sometimes they also are
handcuffed. They are allowed no bedding or mosquito netting.
Detainees whose ill-treatment during interrogation is being
intensified are also deprived of food and water to
progressively undermine their physical strength and resistance
to illness. They may not bathe or go outside their cells to
relieve themselves and are permitted no medication or medical
The aim of this cruel treatment is reportedly to compel
detainees to confess to crimes and to inform on other suspects
or on people considered opponents by the authorities.
Although it is rarely reported that a suspect has been killed
during the actual interrogation, there are frequent reports of
detainees dying during the indefinite period of detention
without charge or trial that usually follows interrogation.
Such deaths reportedly occur even though the torture is over
and conditions have improved. The causes appear to be a
combination of internal injuries sustained during torture,
unattended diseases contracted during or after torture, and
inadequate diet. Suicides also have been reported, as well as
cases of detainees having become insane after torture and
ill-treatment .
After several months of the interrogation phase, detainees are
usually transferred to larger, "daylight cells" which they
share with other prisoners, and eventually to work camps prior
to release. A Heng Samrin security service official who
defected to the border in late 1984 reported that political
prisoners in Phnom Penh were confined in isolation for up to 3
months while being interrogated by the Vietnamese military.
This source claimed that criminal suspects were frequently
beaten and tortured by the Interrogation Bureau of the Heng
Samrin police (the Ministry of Interior). The Lawyers
Committee claims that there are numerous instances of torture
of political detainees by Interior Ministry personnel.
Cambodians who left Khmer Rouge control in late 1984 report
that those who violate minor regulations, for example, by
conducting unauthorized trading, are punished by detention and
forced labor. Those committing more serious offenses, such as
trying to escape from Khmer Rouge control or having
unauthorized contacts with foreigners, have been confined in
underground cells for periods of up to 3 months or forced to
work in dangerous, mine-infested areas. A number of
Vietnamese prisoners who had been in Khmer Rouge hands ended
up in Thailand following Vietnamese attacks on Khmer Rouge
bases in early 1984. Press photographs of the Vietnamese
indicated that they were close to starvation. A group of
Vietnamese captives released by the Khmer Rouge in 1986 also
report being beaten senseless, forced to do hard manual labor,
and forced to fight each other for the amusement of their
captors. However, other Vietnamese captives released during
the year have reported more acceptable treatment by the Khmer
Rouge .
Treatment of Vietnamese and Heng Samrin military prisoners by
the NCR groups generally has been adequate, but there were a
nijmber of instances in 1986 where Vietnamese and Khmer
civilians arriving at the border were abused and held on the
Cambodian side for extortion, reportedly by undisciplined
elements of the KPNLF. In October 1986, the KPNLF leadership.
Thai authorities, the U.N. , and the International Committee of
the Red Cross (ICRC) cooperated in moving people away from the
main area where these abuses were occurring, bringing those
practices to a temporary halt. Given the nature of the
no-man's land on the Cambodian side of the border, however,
the problem may reappear .
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The authorities often detain, interrogate, and jail resistance
sympathizers for extended periods of time without formal
charges. Separate sections within the Heng Samrin police are
responsible for investigation of activities by the
non-Communist (KPNLF and ANS) and Communist Khmer Rouge
resistance groups. The Ministry of Interior maintains at
least three prisons in Cambodia in which suspected supporters
of the resistance are held without formal charges, often for
periods in excess of 3 years. Provincial police and joint
Vietnamese/Heng Samrin military internal security units
maintain additional detention and interrogation centers.
Regulations of the Heng Samrin regime call for the arrest and
"reeducation" of "any person carrying out propaganda campaigns
to sabotage internal unity and Kampuchea-Laos-Vietnam
solidarity." Such "reeducation" means indefinite detention to
force a change in political values.
Combined with brutal treatment of suspected resistance
collaborators, the Heng Samrin regime also operates an amnesty
program for those resistance soldiers who voluntarily
surrender with their weapons to the regime. According to an
official of the program who defected in 1986, returnees are
debriefed and returned to their home villages. Informers in
the village then determine over a period of time whether the
individual is an authentic defector or still works for the
resistance, in which case he would be rearrested.
There is a virtual absence of legal process under the Heng
Samrin regime for those detained. Detainees are almost never
informed of the charges against them, nor are they given
access to a lawyer or informed of any rights or legal
protections .
During 1986 the Heng Samrin regime officially extended
compulsory military service from 3 years to 5 for men between
the ages of 18 and 30. However, deserters from the Heng
Samrin army say that the tour of duty limits freqiaently are
not observed in practice — one claimed that he was forcibly
conscripted in 1982 and had still not been discharged, nor had
any hope of it, when he deserted to the border in mid-1986.
In Vietnamese-controlled areas, forced labor is common,
although it is not primarily used as a sanction or a means of
racial, social, or other discrimination. The Vietnamese and
the Heng Samrin regime have systematically conscripted Khmer
civilians from throughout Cambodia for work on military-
related projects in or near combat areas along the
Thai-Cambodian border. The numbers of these forced laborers
remained in the tens of thousands during 1986 as they were
organized into paramilitary units in a massive program to
construct physical obstacles to infiltration. They have
suffered frequent loss of life from mines, malaria, and other
diseases in the remote border areas. Their forced
participation places their lives at risk when Vietnamese or
resistance military actions occur nearby.
The Khmer Rouge also require labor from all persons under
their control and prevent them from leaving, either to return
to areas controlled by the Vietnamese or to join other
resistance groups. Khmer Rouge defectors in 1986 report that
they were forced to carry supplies and ammunition into the
interior of Cambodia in support of military operations,
claiming they were punished if they failed to carry out these
tasks .
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Political prisoners under the Heng Samrin regime are regularly
denied the right to trial. Figures on the numbers of
political prisoners in Cambodia are only rough estimates. A
recent arrival at the border who had been held in the main
prison in Phnom Penh estimated the total population to be a
little over 1,000. A second prison. Prey Sar, reportedly
holds approximately 1,000 prisoners, including many political
prisoners. Trapeang Phlong in Kompong Cham Province
reportedly contains about 600 prisoners, who are transferred
there from Phnom Penh and the provinces for the labor
"rehabilitation" phase of their confinement prior to release.
The Lawyers Committee heard testimony that the major jail in
Battambang held 876 prisoners as of March 1984. A former
inmate of the Kompong Som jail reported that in October 1984
it held about 180 prisoners, most of whom had been captured
trying to escape from Cambodia. A former prisoner, who
escaped from the Koh Kong province jail in April 1985,
reported that it held about 120 prisoners, mostly political.
The Lawyers Committee also reported the existence of prisons
run by what it termed the Vietnamese "special branch," such as
the one designated 7708 in Phnom Penh. This is in fact the
designation of 1 of at least 20 propaganda/civic action units
of the Vietnamese army which work with Heng Samrin authorities
in each of the 4 military "fronts" and special zones in
Cambodia to maintain internal security. The Lawyers Committee
estimated that political prisoners number in the thousands
overall .
The Heng Samrin regime has reestablished courts and begun to
develop a legal system. However, trials are used primarily
for purposes of propaganda or public intimidation, with the
verdict already decided. Show trials in 1980 and 1983 were
intended primarily to publicize the "confessions" of the
accused. There are few procedural rights for defendants.
According to a former prisoner who arrived at the Thai border
in 1986 and had gone through a Heng Samrin trial, defendants
are required to memorize carefully and rehearse in advance all
the questions and answers to be presented in court. A 1982
law on court organization provides the right of counsel only
with prior approval of the court. The 1981 Constitution
provides for public trials, but allows for closed sessions.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
Heng Samrin authorities search whenever and wherever they
wish. Networks of informers report to the secret police, and
Vietnamese personnel are assigned to monitor all levels of the
Heng Samrin internal security apparatus. Refugees arriving at
the border in 1986 also report the development of tightly
controlled fortified villages in areas of resistance
activity. Access to these villages is controlled by Heng
Scimrin or Vietnamese troops, and people are forcibly relocated
into them to prevent contact with resistance forces. Heng
Samrin authorities also began in 1986 to require that families
in contested areas account for missing family members.
Failure to explain adequately their absence results in the
assumption that they are with the resistance and the
relocation of the family to a fortified village. There are
also reports that the regime confiscates the majority of rice
and other foodstuffs from villagers in an effort to prevent
cooperation with the resistance.
The Khmer Rouge maintain strict control on the social activity
of those under their control. For instance, they punish
people marrying without permission, having contacts with
foreigners, and listening to unauthorized radio broadcasts.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
In Heng Samrin areas the press and radio are wholly controlled
by Hanoi and its client regime. Criticism of the regime is
not tolerated, nor are foreign books and periodicals
permitted, except those officially distributed. There have
been reports of arrests for listening to foreign radio
broadcasts. A similar situation exists in the Khmer Rouge
camps. The non-Communist groups do not have similar
restrictions .
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The only associations permitted by the Heng Samrin regime are
those created to support the regime, such as those for
farmers, women, and youth. Organized labor is totally under
the regime's control, and industries have organized branches
of the official "trade union for national salvation."
Collective bargaining is unheard of.
c. Freedom of Religion
When in power in Phnom Penh, the Khmer Rouge disestablished
Buddhism as the state religion. Since being driven from
power, the Khmer Rouge have tried to give the impression of
reform. However, defectors from the Khmer Rouge zone in 1985
report that Buddhism is still discouraged by Khmer Rouge
authorities. Christianity and Islam were even more ruthlessly
suppressed by the Khmer Rouge when they controlled the country
and are not known to have been revived in Khmer Rouge-
controlled areas since.
The Heng Samrin regime has permitted the return of religious
practices, but has not reinstated Buddhism as a state
religion, nor does it actively encourage it. The number of
Buddhist temples (wats) is far fewer today than before 1970,
and there are generally only two to four monks per wat , far
fewer than before the war. It is forbidden for men under 50
year's of age to be ordained. Religious affairs are overseen
by the National United Front for Construction and Defense, the
same government agency that seeks to organize women, youth,
workers, and religious groups to support the state.
Communities which want a wat must apply to the local front
committee for permission. At the second Buddhist Monks'
Conference in Phnom Penh on July 4, 1984, a resolution was
passed forcing Buddhism into the "two strategic tasks of the
party — namely, to defend the fatherland and build it through
the period of transition step-by-step toward socialism." At
the Fifth Conference of Buddhist Monks on October 3, 1986, PRK
Politburo member Chea Sim praised the contributions of the
Buddhist monks and laymen in Phnom Penh for their
implementation of the party's and state's political line
toward Buddhism. In general, the Heng Samrin authorities
attempt to use Buddhism as one of a number of organizations
for "mass mobilization" to implement party policies.
Christian groups are harassed by the Heng Samrin regime. The
Protestant and Roman Catholic communities in Phnom Penh
reportedly are not authorized to meet. Muslims, most of whom
are ethnic Chams rather than Khmer, have been encouraged by
the Heng Samrin regime to renew their religious community, and
Muslims have spoken out in public in support of the Heng
Samrin regime and against the excesses of the former Khmer
Rouge regime.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Heng Samrin regime tries to control tightly all travel
within the areas under its control. A system of neighborhood
surveillance, modeled after the Vietnamese system, was
introduced in 1981. A system requiring family registration
and identification books was begun in 1980, and in 1983 the
registration effort was placed under the police in each local
administrative unit. Complex regulations govern movement of
families and individuals within Cambodia. Passes are required
for internal movement between villages. Checkpoints are
ubiquitous, and bribes as well as passes are required to pass
them, although checkpoints can often be dodged by avoiding
roads. Only a few top Heng Samrin regime officials travel
cibroad. Other Khmer seeking to leave the country flee to the
Thai border in order to enter U.N. -supported refugee camps in
Thailand. The Heng Samrin regime routinely imprisons those
caught attempting to flee to the border as well as those
believed to be returning from border encampments affiliated
with the CGDK. The Heng Samrin regime has agreed in principle
to accept returning displaced persons from camps in Thailand,
but has taken only one elderly woman so far because it has put
off reaching an agreement with the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the mechanics of
repatriation. Most of the Khmer allowed refugee status in
Thailand have been approved for resettlement and departed for
Western countries. Over 20,000 Khmer approved for refugee
status remain at the Khao-i-Dang holding center in Thailand.
Another 247,000 Khmer who have not been accorded refugee
status in Thailand remain as displaced persons in camps on
Thai territory near the border.
The Khmer Rouge also tightly control movement within their
5;one and attempt to prevent the non-Communists from operating
in or crossing what they consider their "liberated areas" in
Cambodia. In one instance in 1984, a group of approximately
500 Khmer escaped from Khmer Rouge control and joined a
non-Communist group. Several smaller groups of Khmer Rouge
escaped to the non-Communists in 1985 and 1986.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
The Khmer people do not enjoy the fundamental right of
self-determination. The KPRP, a Party which acknowledges a
serious shortage of men±iers, controls political life in areas
controlled by the Heng Samrin regime. Major policies are
approved by Vietnam, and many day-to-day administrative
decisions, especially in internal security matters, are made
unilaterally by Vietnamese officials. Both Hanoi and Phnom
Penh have rejected any change in the system imposed following
the Vietnamese invasion, calling the situation "irreversible."
Political aspirants in Heng Samrin areas must study the
current political dogm.a, which centers on acceptance of the
Vietnamese explanation for Hanoi's dominant position in
Cambodia. Middle- and high-level Heng Samrin officials must
attend political indoctrination courses taught by Vietnamese
at political schools in Phnom Penh and in Vietnam. Relatively
few Heng Samrin officials are considered reliable by the
Vietnamese. Highest positions of trust are given to Khmer
loyal to Hanoi prior to 1975 followed by pre-1978 defectors
from the Khmer Rouge, other former Khmer Rouge cadre,
non-political "intellectuals" (including many pre-1975 school
teachers), and low-ranking officials of pre-1975 governments,
in that order. While attempting to build an indigenous
Communist Party and government structure in Cambodia, Vietnam
itself maintains complete control. Elections in Heng Samrin
areas do not allow genuine political participation, but rather
are staged by the regime to attempt to demonstrate legitimacy,
and to underscore the relative status of leaders by varying
reported percentages of the "vote." Reports suggest that in
the 1981 national elections, percentages were manipulated and
some victors were named regardless of the number of votes they
received. Vietnamese district level advisors were reliably
reported to have picked candidates for lower level elections.
Although National Assembly members are supposed to serve terms
of 4 years, and the second round of elections should have been
held in 1986, none were held and none are scheduled.
The Khmer Rouge Communist Party of Kampuchea was formally
dissolved in December 1981, but it continues to exist in areas
controlled by the Khmer Rouge. In fact, the party, in which
power is concentrated in the hands of fewer than 10 people,
controls all political, economic, and military life in those
areas. No opposition is possible. Although Pol Pot
purportedly "retired" in 1985, and assumed an advisory
position on national security, defectors from the Khmer Rouge
report that power continues to be held by the pre-1979
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations
of Human Rights
Human Rights violations in Cambodia have been the subject of
intense international attention since 1978, when the United
Nations Human Rights Commission and its Subcommission on the
Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities
began investigating the problem. In March 1986, the
Commission adopted the latest in a series of resolutions on
Cambodia. This recognized the continued effectiveness of the
CGDK with Prince Sihanouk as President, reiterated its
"condemnation of persistent occurrence of gross and flagrant
violations of human rights in Kampuchea," and reaffirmed "that
the continuing illegal occupation of Kampuchea by foreign
forces deprives the people of Kampuchea from exercise of their
right to self-determination and constitutes the primary
violation of human rights in Kampuchea at present."
Authorities in the areas controlled by the Heng Samrin and
Khmer Rouge have not permitted investigation of charges of
human rights violations. In late 1984, the Heng Samrin regime
declined to permit the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights to
visit areas it controls. The Lawyers Committee conducted
another study in 1986 and its findings will be made public.
The Heng Samrin regime and the Khmer Rouge areas have Red
Cross organizations, but neither they nor any other groups in
those areas have a role in the protection of human rights.
The non-Communist camps along the Thai -Cambodian border have a
substantial daytime presence of voluntary and international
organization staff who have intervened to secure better
treatment of minorities, such as Vietnamese refugees among the
Khmer. Representatives from the ICRC have conducted
interviews with prisoners held in KPNLF stockades.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion,
Language, or Social Status
Directives issued by the Heng Samrin regime in 1982 seemed to
accord a privileged status to Vietnamese immigrants vis-a-vis
Khmer residents, and there have been reports of Vietnamese
taking advantage of their privileged status to force Khmer out
of desirable occupations or land. Khmer arriving on the
border in 1986 reported that Vietnamese pressure and
commercial taxes in the cities are continuing to drive out
Khmer and Chinese merchants whose places are being taken by
Vietnamese, who are able to avoid taxation. Regime Circular
351 issued in 1983 specified particular measures against
ethnic Chinese who, according to the circular, are being used
by enemies of the State "to engage in espionage, psychological
warfare, economic warfare; and to spread turmoil in the market
place." Chinese with "questionable family histories" are
encouraged to report to authorities to "clear themselves."
Reports from border travelers indicate that many Vietnamese
have moved into Cambodia to join other returning residents who
had been expelled during the Khmer Republic or Khmer Rouge
periods. Most are traders or fishermen, but a large group of
Vietnamese farmers have settled on rich marshland in Takeo
There is no known minimum age for the employment of children.
No attention appears to have been given by authorities to
ensure acceptable conditions of work, and there is little
information on this subject. Wage scales for the few
industrial and government workers are set by the State and are
universally regarded as insufficient, forcing employees to
supplement their wages in some manner.