Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US ‘concerned by government’s ongoing harassment of citizens’




US ‘concerned by government’s ongoing harassment of citizens’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Suong Neakpaon was charged with “incitement to commit crimes” and placed in pre-trial detention. Heng Chivoan

US ‘concerned by government’s ongoing harassment of citizens’

The US said on Monday that it is “concerned by the Cambodian government’s ongoing practice of using baseless, politically motivated charges to harass its citizens, including the recent arrests of several people peacefully remembering the life of Kem Ley”.

“All Cambodians should be able to exercise their rights to express their views freely and assemble peacefully."

“We have consistently urged the Cambodian government to remove undue political restrictions on all persons in Cambodia, release those prisoners who have been arbitrarily or unlawfully detained, and uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms,” said a statement sent to local and international media by the US embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday.

However, the US statement was blasted by ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesperson Sok Eysan, who said there were no restrictions placed on the freedom of expression in the Kingdom.

“This is just their opinion. Their view is politically biased. This is why they have said what they have. There are no restrictions if [people] don’t violate the law,” Eysan said.

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.

Last week seven people were arrested while marking the third anniversary of the killing of the popular analyst.

Five were later freed while two, Kung Raiya and Suong Neakpaon, were charged with “incitement to commit crimes” and placed in pre-trial detention.

Eysan said Raiya and Neakpaon had been selling political T-shirts and using the anniversary of Ley’s death for political gain.

He also hit out at the US for the recent deportations of Cambodians after serving prison terms in the country.

“We have not done anything arbitrarily or unlawfully. We have acted according to our judicial system. No one walks down the street and is arrested and put in jail without due cause,” Eysan said.

He said the US should not make evaluations based on a political agenda but rather from the reality on the ground.

“The statement is a kind of interference into Cambodia’s internal affairs without clear basis,” Eysan said.

Political analysts Lao Mong Hay said that as a party to the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements and a permanent member of the UN Security Council which endorsed them, the US was simply honouring its obligations under the accords.

This was “to promote and encourage respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cambodia”, he said.

“A reasonable person would not treat this particular US statement as an act of interference into Cambodia’s internal affairs at all,” Mong Hay said.

MOST VIEWED

  • All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

    Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1. Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as

  • Flights from Indonesia, Malaysia cancelled

    A Ministry of Health official has warned of the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through community transmission after the total infected cases in the Kingdom rose to 225. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on Saturday that the possibility of community transmission cannot be overlooked and that

  • Man in quarantine dies of ‘overdose’

    The Ministry of Health on Thursday said a Cambodian migrant worker who died while being isolated at a quarantine centre in Tbong Khmum province’s Kroch Chhmar district may have died from syncope or overdose of tablets. In a statement, the ministry said the 21-year-old

  • Ministry set to reopen 20 schools in August

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will allow 20 high-safety-standards schools to reopen next month despite new cases of Covid-19 in the country. Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha wrote in a Telegram message on Wednesday that the schools are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.