Cambodian Police Force 2 MSMs to Cut Hair

Men who have sex with men (MSM) are still under degrading treat- ment. Arrest, detention and inhuman or degrading treatments against MSM and other most-at-risk population have been reportedly committed by Cambodian law enforcement officials. Nokorwat newspaper (Temple News) which is a Cambodian local newspaper in its article issued on 28 November 2011 said two MSM along with other three young people were arrested on the public park in Battambang province because they were making noises at night and disturbing sleep of the neighbors. The two were forced to have their hair cut. The news cited Mr. Lay Mean, chief of petty crime police, who said he ordered the arrest and to have their hair cut. All were re- leased after being re-educated.

“A man who expresses himself as a woman with long hair is protected by law. Forcing MSM with long hair to have their hair cut means torturing. The victim should file a complaint in accordance the law,” said a lawyer from an agency, working to promote and protect human rights in Cambodia. Article 150, paragraph 2, of the Cambodian Constitution states, “Laws and decisions by the State institutions shall have to be in strict conformity with the Constitution.” Therefore, disciplinary actions or decisions taken by law enforcement officials against individual must be authorized by law as well as the international human rights law as recognized under article 31 of the Constitution. This provision of the Constitution provides enough grounds to deny decisions, orders or laws that are bad and violating the Constitution as well as the international human rights law.

Article 38 of the Constitution prohibits physical abuse against any individual, protects life, honor, and dignity of the citizens, and protects individuals from illegal prosecution, illegal arrest, or detention of any person. Also paragraph 4 of the same article said, “Coercion, physical ill-treatment or any other mistreatment that imposes additional pun ishment on a detainee or prisoner shall be prohibited. Persons who commit, participate or conspire in such acts shall be punished accord- ing to the law.”

Cambodia has ratified the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1992 and also integrates it into the Cambodian Constitution in 1993. The MSM who consider themselves as women and express themselves with long hair deserve to be treated as a woman and having their hair cut grossly violates the provision of the Constitution as the Supreme Law of Cambodia and violates the provisions of the UN Convention Against Torture. “In Cambodia individuals who are victimized from such illegal acts seldom speak out about their cases, or they seldom report their cases to their community or civil society for action. They might think that what the police do is the police’s job. Furthermore, most are not aware of their human rights and legal rights,” said a former Human Rights practitioner from a UN agency

Bandanh Chaktomok (BC) which is a national network of MSM in Cambodia had not could not be reach for comments. However, Phal Sophat, Executive Director of Men’s Health Social Service (MHSS), said that the incident in Battambang was reported differently. He said the two had their hair cut on their own after being told by police. “MHSS in Battambang has not received any report from the two MSM and we here has tried to find the two MSM, but we could not find them. They may probably hide themselves as they are ashamed by having their hair cut; however, we keep looking for them,” said Chansy, a program coordinator of MHSS in Battambang.

Source –