INTERNATIONAL human rights organisations have joined the chorus of condemnation surrounding Svay Rieng provincial court’s conviction of opposition leader Sam Rainsy and two local villagers last week, describing the trial as a “farce”.
On Wednesday, the court sentenced the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) president to two years’ prison for uprooting demarcation markers on the border with Vietnam.
In a statement issued on Friday, the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) slammed the closed-door hearing, describing it as part of a campaign of persecution against government critics.
“The Cambodian government’s relentless crackdown on critics continues apace in 2010,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW. “Hun Sen seems intent on reversing the political pluralism that has been created over the past two decades.”
Meanwhile, the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a separate statement on Friday, expressing regret that an issue of public concern should not be subject to open debate.
“In a democratic society, it is preferable that government policies or decisions are addressed through public debate,” the statement said.
But Tith Sothea, a member of the Council of Ministers’ Press Rapid Reaction Unit, dismissed both statements, describing their writers as “blind”.
“Such an attack pushes Cambodian society into anarchy, because we are a sovereign state that demands respect for the law,” he said.