[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] on Sunday accused a Cambodia leader of human rights abuse, reporting [press release] that the commander of the nation’s gendarmerie [Global Security backgrounder] admitted to using force against opposing individuals such as anti-government demonstrators and protesters. General Sao Sohka, leader of the gendarmerie and part of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) [official website], said that he used such force for political reasons, and admitted to invoking tactics used by Adolf Hitler. During his speech last week, Sao Sokha lauded the work done by his troops when the killed five people publicly protesting the current government regime. He stated, “[S]peaking frankly, I learned from Hitler. Hitler, after Europe, after World War I, the international community – at that time there was not yet a United Nations – imposed that there be a total of only 100,000 troops. So how were Hitler and the Nazis able to marshal an army to make World War II?” After his comments sparked outrage, HRW urged Cambodia’s donors to call for Sao Sohka to be removed from power.
Cambodia has had a history of human rights abuses which have continued to alarm rights organizations around the world. Earlier this month the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) restarted genocide hearings [JURIST report] against the former Khmer Rouge regime’s surviving leaders. Proceedings had been postponed since November, when defense lawyers refused to participate [JURIST report] because they were still working to appeal an earlier verdict. In October the Cambodian government released the findings of a survey [JURIST report] showing the magnitude of violence against children throughout the country. In September UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia Surya Subedi commented [JURIST report] on Cambodia’s recent efforts in human rights protection, noting that while there have been improvements, there are still substantial problems in the judicial system.