SVAY Rieng provincial police will move to block any Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians who try to visit two villagers detained at the provincial prison today, one officer said on Monday, after the Ministry of Interior rejected a visitation request filed by the party last week.
“If the [SRP] comes with permission from the court, it does not matter, but if they come without permission and don’t respect the law, I will take action,” said provincial police Chief Prach Rim, citing the importance of ensuring prison security and public order.
Last Tuesday, the SRP requested permission for 26 of its lawmakers, including one senator, to visit Meas Srey, 39, and Prom Chea, 41, both of whom were detained last month on charges stemming from an October incident in which they joined SRP president Sam Rainsy in uprooting wooden border posts. Villagers said the posts were planted in their rice fields by Vietnamese authorities.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Interior rejected the SRP’s visitation request, prompting the party to submit a request to Koam Chhean, president of Svay Rieng provincial court, the next day. On Monday, court prosecutor Keo Thea would not comment on whether the court had made a decision about the party’s request.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the threat to block SRP lawmakers from visiting the prison was politically motivated.
“If they do not want us to enter [the prison] for political reasons, they should say it,” Yim Sovann said. “As people’s representatives, who have immunity, we understand what public order is, what the national interest is.”
Yim Sovann added that the SRP would proceed with the visit. “They are not criminals; they were accused of daring to protest about the grabbing of their land,” he said of the two suspects.
Meas Srey and Prom Chea will be tried along with Sam Rainsy, who is overseas, on January 27, while three more villagers remain on the run.
Court president Koam Chhean could not be reached for comment on Monday.