Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CHRC denies rights restriction claim



CHRC denies rights restriction claim

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former RFA reporter Yeang Sothearin. Heng Chivoan

CHRC denies rights restriction claim

The spokesman for the Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) on Saturday strongly denied allegations made by a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) special rapporteur that government law enforcement had restricted rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Ministry of Justice and CHRC spokesman Chin Malin released a statement adamantly rejecting the allegations after receiving a UNHRC press release on Friday which expressed concern over two arrests made during commemorations for the third anniversary of the death of slain political analyst Kem Ley.

Malin’s statement said the UNHRC allegations were groundless.

“As spokesman for the Cambodian Human Rights Committee, I would like to strongly deny the unfounded allegations against the Royal Government of Cambodia, which are based on false and biased information and on a political agenda with double standards.

“The arrests of Kong Raiya and Suong Neakpoan do not constitute a restriction of freedom of expression or peaceful assembly.

“Rather it was law enforcement by competent authorities to prevent social unrest arising from acts of malicious intent to stir up turmoil and provoke anger among Cambodians and rebellion against the legitimate Royal Government of Cambodia. The local authorities had enough information to take legal action,” he said.

Malin also referred to a separate case, saying former Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalists Oun Chhin and Yeang Sothearin had not acted following standards of professional journalism.

“The legal action taken against them was not an attack on freedom of expression or press freedom, because their activities were not in keeping with the practice of professional journalists.

“Their activities were found to constitute an offence and they were charged with providing foreign states with false information that jeopardised national security and other charges under the provisions of the Criminal Code of the Kingdom of Cambodia, based on intelligence information and other evidence.

“The legal measures taken by the Royal Government did not specifically target any group or person as the groundless claims alleged. Cambodia is a democratic country that respects human rights and the rule of law. The special rapporteur is not in a position to a judge who is guilty or not guilty.

“The appeal made to the government to release suspects or dismiss charges against anyone undergoing court proceedings was a call which was not based on the law or the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

“Only the courts have the right to rule to detain or not detain anyone and dismiss charges or not. The courts base their decisions on applicable legal procedures and cannot be ordered on what to do by any outside institution,” Malin wrote.

Friday’s UNHRC statement said: “We are concerned about the arrest and detention of and criminal charges laid against Raiya and Neakpoan.

“According to the information we have received, both men participated lawfully and were legitimately exercising their freedom of speech. Neakpaon was about to mark the anniversary in a peaceful way.

“One again, we are concerned that the authorities are failing to respect freedom of expression and freedom to peacefully assemble.”

The UNHRC called on Cambodian authorities to release the two men, drop the charges against them and urged that criminal procedures be halted against the two RFA journalists.

The council also requested that the government take immediate measures to safeguard the safety of journalists, who it said were under attack for implementing their rights and freedom of expression.

Raiya was arrested on July 9 for selling T-shirts featuring Ley’s images and quotes on Facebook and providing detailed information for taxi drivers to travel to a venue marking the anniversary of Ley’s murder.

Neakpoan was detained the following morning while trying to attend the commemorations. Both men were charged with inciting others to commit a crime and placed under pre-trial detention.

Popular activist Ley, 45, was shot twice with a Glock handgun at a Caltex petrol station cafe on the capital’s Monivong Boulevard in Chamkarmon district’s Tonle Bassac commune on July 10, 2016.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma