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France, US condemn calls to shutter CCHR

Traffic passes in front of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights’ headquarters on Monday in Phnom Penh.
Traffic passes in front of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights’ headquarters on Monday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

France, US condemn calls to shutter CCHR

The French and American embassies yesterday condemned Prime Minister Hun Sen’s call for the closure of prominent NGO Cambodian Center for Human Rights over its purported links to “foreigners”.

According to a press release, the director for Asia and Oceania at the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Thierry Mathou, visited Cambodia on Monday and yesterday to meet representatives of the government, opposition, and civil society.

“The Director urged the Cambodian government to once again become part of a democratic process and to allow the opposition, media and civil society to function without hindrance,” the press release reads. “He emphasized that the closing of the human rights NGO Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), if it came to be, would be considered a particularly negative new development.”

Meanwhile, US Embassy spokesman David Josar said the US was “very concerned” at the calls to shutter CCHR. “This is part of a disturbing trend in Cambodia that has included limiting space for civil society, closing independent media outlets, and dissolving the main opposition party outright.”

Prak Sam Oeun, of the Ministry of Interior’s General Administration Department, would only say investigations into CCHR were ongoing. CCHR Executive Director Chak Sopheap yesterday said they had not yet heard from the Interior Ministry.

Additional reporting by Niem Chheng

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