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Detention of Cambodian rights defenders reveals 'political bias'

Court ruling is part of Prime Minister Hun Sen's 'persecution' of rights groups

December 1, 2016

A Cambodian Supreme Court decision to refuse bail to five detained human rights defenders is part of the government's persecution of Cambodia's rights groups, Human Rights Watch said Dec. 1.

On Nov. 30, the court upheld pretrial detention for four current and one former member of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, in violation of their due process rights under international law, said the rights group in a statement.

"The Supreme Court showed its political bias in refusing bail for five human rights defenders criminally charged for doing their jobs in a way the government didn't like," said Brad Adams, Asia director. "No one should mistake these prosecutions for anything other than Prime Minister Hun Sen's effort to undo decades of work by Cambodian groups and the U.N. to promote the human rights of all Cambodians."

In November, the Cambodian government threatened to shut down the U.N. human rights office in Phnom Penh by the end of 2016.

"Prime Minister Hun Sen has sent a message through the ruling party-controlled judiciary and through threats to close the U.N. human rights office that no rights advocacy is safe in Cambodia," Adams said.

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