Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’



Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Staffers at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights hold up signs reading ‘Save Press Freedom Cambodia’ in solidarity with the Cambodia Daily newspaper, which closed earlier this year following a tax dispute. Photo supplied

Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”.

The CNRP - the country's largest opposition party - was dissolved by the Supreme Court in a widely condemned decision earlier this month over accusations it was engaging in a foreign-backed “lotus revolution”. The party's former president, Kem Sokha, is currently jailed awaiting trial on “treason” charges after telling supporters he received advice from the US.

Sokha founded CCHR in 2002, and Hun Sen this morning suggested that he had attempted to conceal foreign influence in the NGO, telling a gathering of garment workers that CCHR “must close because they follow foreigners”.

“The Ministry of Interior should check, because they were created by foreigners, not Khmers,” he said.

“If it’s an international NGO, and they come to create it and ask our permission, it’s not an issue,” he continued. “But this one is [registered as] Khmer and was created by foreigners to do this and do that.”

CCHR is one of the most prominent local NGOs in Cambodia, and has long been critical of the government in advocating for greater respect for human and civil rights.

The NGO released a statement this afternoon, denying all allegations and reiterating its independence.

“CCHR wishes to re-affirm its absolute non-partisanship and independence from all political parties. Strict independence is a core value of CCHR, which strives to provide a balanced and principled human rights analysis of public affairs, without favoring any party,” they wrote. “CCHR firmly believes that any independent and impartial investigation into CCHR would find no wrongdoing whatsoever on the part of the organization.”

They then call on the government to “enter into a meaningful dialogue with CCHR representatives in relation to these allegations”.

Ministry of Interior spokesperson Khieu Sopheak could not be immediately reached.

Updates to follow.

Additional reporting by Leonie Kijewski

This story has been updated to reflect a statement from CCHR.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Time to Rise by rapper, chapei legend is viral hit with ancient-modern mix

    Kong Nay is known internationally as the master of the chapei dang veng, a traditional Cambodian instrument resembling a long-necked lute or guitar with two nylon strings that he was already playing professionally by the age of 15. Nay is sometimes referred to as the Cambodian

  • Cambodia set for large-scale vaccination campaign as Covid spreads

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed all provincial authorities to get ready for a large-scale vaccination campaign, with at least one million doses to be administered per month. “We will roll out at least one million doses. The vaccines we have purchased and received as