BANGKOK — A human rights group is urging President Barack Obama to address abuses in Cambodia during a visit this month to the Southeast Asian country, the first by a U.S. president.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report Tuesday that more than 300 people have been killed in politically motivated attacks in the past two decades under the rule of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The report suggested senior Cambodian government officials and security forces have been involved in a series of serious rights abuses since Cambodia signed peace agreements in 1991 to pave the way for democracy.
It said officials who were allegedly responsible for extrajudicial killings and other abuses against opposition politicians, security forces, activists and journalists have not been prosecuted, and instead were rewarded.
"The message to Cambodians is that even well-known killers are above the law if they have protection from the country's political and military leaders," said Brad Adams, the group's Asia director.
Adams said Obama should urge Hun Sen to solve the issue of impunity to bring justice to the victims.
"On his historic first visit to Cambodia, President Obama is uniquely placed to publicly demand that Hun Sen make genuine reforms so the Cambodian people can enjoy the same rights and freedoms that Americans take for granted," Adams said.
Obama is to attend an East Asia summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. It is part of his first overseas trip since being re-elected on Nov. 6.