Deadly mob justice thrives in Cambodia: UN report

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Deadly mob justice is a “chronic social disease” in Cambodia, a justice official said on Thursday at the launch of a United Nations (UN) report which highlights the fatal consequences stemming from Cambodians’ distrust of the justice system.

Cambodia has undergone rapid development in the past decade, but its judicial and police system remains rife with corruption, leaving people believing they cannot go to the authorities with their grievances.

Perpetrators of mob violence are also rarely arrested or convicted.

“The killings outside of a court system is a challenging problem,” said Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice Chin Malin at the launch of the report by the UN’s rights arm (OHCHR).

“We consider it to be a chronic social disease of Cambodia… that we all have to work together to resolve,” he said.

The report, titled People’s Court, detailed 73 cases of so-called “popular justice” from 2010 to 2018, with 57 cases resulting in death.

Of those, 35 cases occurred because victims were believed to be “witches or sorcerers” and seen as “scapegoats for a variety of problems” in rural provinces – where belief in black magic remains strong.

In a 2014 case, a group of 600 stoned to death a traditional healer, accusing him of witchcraft.