Police Chief’s Demotion Over Sex Abuse Claims ‘Not Enough’: Gender Advocate

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Kampong Thom provincial police chief Ouk Kosal speaks at a National Police ceremony on July 29, 2020, in this photograph posted to the Facebook page of the Kampong Thom Provincial Police.
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A gender rights advocate has said the demotion of a male provincial police chief accused of pressuring women officers to perform sex acts in return for promotions did not go far enough to protect the women and bring them justice.

Ros Sopheap, executive director of NGO Gender and Development for Cambodia, said the Interior Ministry’s measure to remove former Kampong Thom police chief Ouk Kosal from his position and lower his rank was a form of punishment, but he should also face judicial proceedings over the allegations.

“It is not enough because the women have not received justice yet,” Sopheap told VOD on Tuesday. “We are still concerned about the safety of the victims as there may be resentment [against them].”

Interior Ministry spokesperson Khieu Sopheak said the ministry had removed Kosal from his police chief post and requested that the government and the king reduce Kosal’s rank from two-star major general to colonel.

National Police chief Neth Savoeun said a government investigation had found that the victims had been sexually abused, but Kosal was still employed as a police officer.

The ministry’s decision to carry out “serious administrative punishment” was a message that Kosal’s actions were “a bad example for other police officers,” Savoeun said.

Kosal was accused of pressuring female subordinates to masturbate him in his office, touching their breasts and genitals, and threatening them to tell no one or face unspecified problems, according to an unverified complaint letter signed by six women and leaked to reporters last month.

Brushing off the allegations in an 18-minute video released by government-aligned media after Kosal was suspended, the officer claimed the accusations were part of a conspiracy to get him removed from his job.

Asked whether the case would reach the court, Savoeun said ministry leaders chose not to pursue criminal charges against Kosal because some of the alleged incidents of abuse happened years ago and it would be “difficult to compile the case.”

In addition, the police chief said officials aimed to “protect the dignity of the victims,” whose honor would be threatened if they brought the case to court.

“Women victims or general Cambodian women will feel ashamed,” he said. “The nightmare that happened will repeat.”

Last month, none of the women named in the complaint against Kosal agreed to speak to VOD.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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