The guilty verdict and seven year sentence handed down to an opposition politician, Hong Sok Hour, today in Phnom Penh is further evidence of a worrying spiral of suppression of key human rights, including freedom of expression, in Cambodia, said Amnesty International.
Hong Sok Hour, a Senator from the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), was convicted on forgery and incitement charges by Phnom Penh Municipal Court, for allegedly posting a video clip on Facebook containing an image of a fictitious agreement between Cambodia and Vietnam to dissolve their shared border. He was held in pre-trial detention following his arrest in August 2015, until his trial resumed two weeks ago.
“This conviction is part of an ongoing campaign by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to silence any political dissent, however peaceful, in Cambodia,”Josef Benedict, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s South East Asia Programme
“This conviction is part of an ongoing campaign by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to silence any political dissent, however peaceful, in Cambodia,” said Josef Benedict, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s South East Asia Programme.
“The charges against Hong Sok Hour were politically motivated and we urge the Cambodian authorities to re-consider this absurd sentence of seven years for posting something on Facebook.”
Cambodia is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which among other things guarantees the rights to freedom of expression, equality before the law, and to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal. These rights are also protected under Cambodia’s Constitution.
“In the run-up to the 2018 general election it is vital that international pressure is ramped up on the Cambodian government to uphold its international human rights obligations,” Josef Benedict said.
In a further sign of the worsening civic environment in the country, a government spokesperson declared the local office of the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) ‘illegal’, as negotiations for renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the office’s presence continue. The OHCHR plays a vital role in promoting human rights in the country and must be allowed to continue its work uninhibited.