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European diplomats concerned by arrests

European diplomats called on Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday to express their concerns about the recent spate of activists' arrests, with the minister reportedly saying that he believed a one-year sentence speedily handed down to seven Boeung Kak lake protesters last week was rather “heavy”.

EU Ambassador Jean-François Cautain said that he and representatives of six European nations “raised our concerns to [Deputy Prime Minister] Sar Kheng on the slow pace of the negotiations on the electoral reform and the recent wave of arrests”.

Regarding the arrests, Cautain said that the ambassadors told Kheng they “shared the view” of UN rights envoy Surya Subedi, who on Tuesday said the courts were being used as “a tool of the executive”.

Interior Ministry Secretary of State Prum Sokha said Kheng told the diplomats that the arrests had “no link” to ongoing election reform negotiations and that separate cases involving land activists, monks and opposition officials “were not systematic or linked up to each other".

“To him, he thinks that it’s a little bit heavy for that case of the ladies that [were arrested].… He said the suspects should go ahead with the Appeal Court.”



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Mizerski's picture

After stating (in The Cambodia Herald, 16 Nov. 2014) that " human rights are a cornerstone of the U.S. relationship with the entire Asia-Pacific region" it is unfortunate and embarrassing that the most the US Ambassador has said so far is a rather vague: "Here in Cambodia, the recent arrests and rapid convictions of protestors this week have led to questions about consistent application of the rule of law. Protest is a vital form of democratic expression that must be protected to the maximum extent possible. It is unfortunate that reports of these arrests have eclipsed a more positive news story, which is the announcement of a higher minimum wage." What is "unfortunate" - the reports, the arrests, or his observation that the minimum wage announcement was overshadowed? And aside from the issue of "consistent" application of the rule of law, what about the obvious perversion of the rule of law?

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