Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRP leaders ask for pardons

CNRP leaders ask for pardons

Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha leave the Phnom Penh airport in 2013 after Rainsy received a royal pardon, allowing him to return.
Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha leave the Phnom Penh airport in 2013 after Rainsy received a royal pardon, allowing him to return. Vireak Mai

CNRP leaders ask for pardons

A royal pardon request by the opposition party’s top leaders, calling on King Norodom Sihamoni to expunge charges against its members and imprisoned activists, has been swatted away by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

According to documents also released by local media, Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy and acting president Kem Sokha sent the joint letter on October 8, the day after a rare message by Sihamoni, calling on parliamentarians to “respect human rights” and adhere to the “principle of multi-party democracy”, was read to the National Assembly.

Noting the King’s remarks – which also called on lawmakers to “solve problems”, decide upon a “joint target”, and work “step by step” – the CNRP leaders asked Sihamoni to intervene.

They called for a royal pardon and charges to be dropped for “human rights activists, land activists, environmental activists, the deputy general secretary of the National Election Committee and CNRP activists and leaders”.

On October 11, King Sihamoni forwarded the request to Prime Minister Hun Sen “to look at”.

In response, Hun Sen called the cases a matter for law enforcement and suggested it would be improper to intervene. “I believe that the strengthening and promotion of the rule of law through proper and effective law enforcement is a necessity and the key to help ensure good order in the country,” he wrote.

Both Rainsy and Sokha currently face jail sentences in cases widely considered political. The former is in self-exile abroad and the latter is holed-up at party headquarters to avoid arrest.

Rights group Licadho characterises 27 people currently in jail, including several CNRP figures, as political prisoners. While the premier often cites the courts’ purported independence when accused of meddling in the judiciary, critics have long accused him of leaning on the courts to target political opponents.

He has, in the past, arranged royal pardons as part of political deals, including the agreement that allowed Rainsy to return from self-imposed exile in 2013 to contest the national election.

However, he has since maintained he would cut off his arm before granting the CNRP president another.

Reached yesterday, Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan maintained any royal pardon would be contrary to procedure. But CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the cases were clearly political and thus needed a political solution. “The world, citizens and the CNRP all understand this is politically motivated . . . it must be solved by political negotiations,” he said.

Speaking yesterday, Prince Sisowath Thomico said that though the recent request stood little chance of success, the King’s “rare” comments were interesting.

“It is the first time he has mentioned respect for human rights and the multiparty democracy,” Thomico said.

“I think he tries to convey a message, but to which purpose . . . in order to ease the tension? It could be interpreted as a way.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Thy Sovantha threatens new suit

    Social media celebrity and card-carrying CPP member Thy Sovantha yesterday said she will file a lawsuit against wildlife NGO head Suwanna Gauntlett alleging discrimination after the latter allegedly denied her access to an ecotourism program the group is launching today in Koh Kong province. The

  • Police raid Siem Reap party, arrest 10 foreigners over ‘pornographic’ images

    A group of 10 foreign tourists appeared in court today after being arrested for producing “pornographic” photos in Siem Reap town on Thursday, while dozens more were detained temporarily and let go after being lectured on their behaviour, according to authorities. A report posted to the

  • Hun Sen’s in-law removed from RCAF after cockfighting rings raided

    Thai Phany, the nephew-in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen who is accused of running two large cockfighting rings, has been removed as a general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. Phany, formerly a one-star brigadier general, was removed by royal decree on December 19, according to

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially