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.


  • Public warned of dengue risks amid rainy season

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has issued an eight-point plan to destroy mosquitoes carrying dengue fever amid the rainy season. In a four-page directive, Bun Heng warned that while the number of dengue cases has dropped sharply compared to last year, it could increase

  • Thirteen charged in UK migrant lorry tragedy

    Thirteen suspects arrested by French police over the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a refrigerated lorry in Britain have been charged with people trafficking, a judicial source said on Saturday. Six of the group – mainly Vietnamese and French nationals – were held on Tuesday in the

  • Cambodian Blue Helmet dies of virus

    The last rites for Cambodian Blue Helmet peacekeeper Sar Savy, who died on Friday at 63 from Covid-19 while on a mission in the Republic of Mali, will be held on Wednesday and Thursday at the UN base there. Cambodia’s National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces

  • World Bank donates $15 million in aid

    The World Bank on Friday approved $15 million for a medical training system to help Cambodia equip doctors with more skills before they start work. The budget, which was granted by the International Development Association (IDA), is intended to improve health care services. The World Bank

  • Ministry signs MoU to develop ICT training

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IT Academy STEP Cambodia (STEP) to further develop the Sisters of Code project. The project trains female students in computer programming, and enhances information and communication technology (ICT) textbooks

  • Masseuse caught planting fake bills

    Four suspects were sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Sunday for allegedly stealing money from a customer who had visited their massage parlour for a cupping session last Friday in Anlong Kgnan village, in Sen Sok district’s Khmuonh commune. District police chief Hour