Justice official dismisses defense tactic in Kem Sokha trial as a 'trick' to embroil foreign powers
Kem Sokha, former leader of the now-dissolved CNRP, speaks to the media before going to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for the resumption of his trial on treason charges on Jan. 19. (Photo: AFP)
The Cambodian government has slammed a report by three leading NGOs which maintained fundamental freedoms within the one-party state were “restricted” amid increased criticisms by civil society groups ahead of commune elections.
In their sixth annual report, titled "Cambodian Fundamental Freedoms Monitor," the Centre for Human Rights, ADHOC and the Solidarity Centre claimed that fundamental freedoms remained restricted and the country’s civic space continued to shrink.
“Despite the government’s duty to respect, protect and promote the freedoms of association, expression and assembly, the report records more than 300 restrictions and violations of fundamental freedoms in every province,” the 80-page report said.
However, government spokesman Phay Siphan said he deplored the report, adding it did not reflect the truth about Cambodian society and dismissing concerns that the restrictions could impact on the June 5 commune elections.
“The government always bases its decisions on the law in regards to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech,” he said. “All people have equal rights, but they cannot stray from being under the jurisdiction of the law.”
Phay Siphan said the report should have also included the government response to explain policies and promote a better understanding of law enforcement in regards to freed speech.
“The patriotic Cambodian people are well aware that the kingdom is a sovereign state and has its own laws which must be strictly enforced by the judiciary, which is an independent power as guaranteed by the constitution"
“If their activists promote freedom of speech and assembly but don’t bother to educate people about respecting public order, then that’s just an incitement aimed at causing problems in our society,” he said.
The report landed amid ongoing trials of supporters from the outlawed Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) that was dissolved by the courts in late 2017, enabling the long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party to win every seat contested at national elections a year later.
Among them is former CNRP president Kem Sokha, who remains under house arrest amid his long-running trial for charges of treason that have garnered international attention. His lawyers have said they intend to call diplomats to testify.
However, Chin Malin, spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, said that decision was simply a “trick” designed to embroil foreign powers and exert undue pressure on the Cambodian government and turn the trial into an international affair.
“The patriotic Cambodian people are well aware that the kingdom is a sovereign state and has its own laws which must be strictly enforced by the judiciary, which is an independent power as guaranteed by the constitution, the supreme law of the nation,” he said on social media.
He said international law under the Vienna Convention on State-to-State Diplomatic Relations made it clear that foreign diplomats have immunity and are therefore not subject to the judicial powers of a host state.
Kem Sokha faces a prison term of 15-30 years under Article 443 of the Criminal Code if convicted.
Share your comments
Xiangtan is a prefecture-level city in Hunan province, China. The hometowns of several
In a land area of 2,647 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the Civil Province of Ilocos Sur. The total
The diocese of Chengde was formed, conjoining parts of the diocesan territories of Jehol (Jinzhou) and Chifeng. It was
The shrine holds a three-meter-tall, white-stone carved statue Virgin Mary on the Tao Pao Mountain...
Asian Catholics who cannot visit Padua in Italy to honor the miraculous Portuguese Saint Anthony...
Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, popularly known as Notre Dame Cathedral...