Statement on the Death of Heng Chantha
Released on May 17, 2012
The United States is deeply concerned by the fatal shooting of a teenage girl in Kratie province yesterday, which reportedly occurred during a response by Cambodian security forces to a protest over an economic land concession. We extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Heng Chantha.
We urge Cambodian authorities to undertake a thorough, transparent, and credible investigation into this matter and to hold accountable anyone criminally responsible for the killing.
The United States has consistently expressed its concerns about the increasing number of land disputes in Cambodia and the potential they have to escalate into violent confrontations. We call on both protestors and security forces to refrain from violence and to exercise maximum restraint.
The United States views the Royal Government of Cambodia’s recent decision to suspend the issuance of new economic land concessions as a positive development, especially in light of growing public concern about the impact of such concessions on the environment and on Cambodians’ property rights. However, yesterday’s tragedy underscores the urgent importance of clearly delineated property rights, as well as the need for a dispute resolution system that is independent, transparent, well-understood by the public, and treats all Cambodians equally and according to the rule of law. In light of the recent sad incident, we urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to implement the new moratorium in an expeditious and robust manner.