Prime Minister Hun Sen has reiterated that he will not sign any request for pardons from politicians who have been convicted of “criminal offences”.

Procedurally, a request for royal pardon is submitted to the Prime Minister for approval before being referred to the King, he noted.

Speaking on the commemoration of International Women’s Day on March 8, held one day early at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said there were groups who “insulted” his late sister-in-law Bun Sotha, his wife Bun Rany and his family.

Sotha, the younger sister of Bun Rany, passed away due to an illness in early February at the age of 67.

At the March 7 event, which was attended by many foreign diplomats, Hun Sen said that while his wife, himself and the entire family were in mourning, some opposition politicians ignored their sorrow and went on the attack.

Hun Sen asked the foreign ambassadors present whether they would accept it or not if they were in his place or that of his wife. He also said that governing the state must not be based on emotions, but the rule of law.

“So, sometimes you [envoys] say that Hun Sen is dictatorial and likes to respond to this or that person, but in this case if you have read their comments, you would see they had attacked the dead. So, why did they speak ill of the dead like this?” he asked rhetorically.

Procedurally, convicts can request a pardon from the King through the prime minister, who decides whether to first approve and refer it to the King. But Hun Sen said that for the aforementioned cases, no request would be approved.

“Therefore, I declare I won’t sign any pardon requests for politicians who commit criminal offences. I do not forgive them. There is no understanding that could possibly be come to. If I forgive them, that means I am as low as an animal. I cannot do it. Please do not imagine that Hun Sen will use his pen to sign any pardon for this person or that person,” he said, without naming anyone specifically.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said a convict would only need a pardon if they were facing a serious criminal penalty, which means that their crime was serious and one that endangers society. Therefore, obtaining a pardon is actually difficult not only for politicians, but also for ordinary people.

“As the prime minister has pointed out, if they have committed crime, it’s difficult to justify a pardon. If we’re speaking generally, if some politicians have criminal convictions and sentences due to their political activities, they might be pardoned if there is any change in the political situation or some change in circumstances,” he told The Post.