Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Arrest for lèse majesté violation




Arrest for lèse majesté violation

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Kheang Navy, A primary school teacher in Kampong Thom province was charged yesterday by the provincial court for allegedly violating the recently passed lèse majesté.

Arrest for lèse majesté violation

A primary school teacher in Kampong Thom province was charged yesterday by the provincial court for allegedly violating the recently passed lèse majesté amendment and placed in pretrial detention, becoming the first to be charged by the controversial law.

Say Nora, spokesman for the Kampong Thom Provincial Court, confirmed the arrest, adding that the suspect, Kheang Navy, 50, the principal at Ta Hou Primary School in Stung Sen district, was charged with “insulting the King” in violation of Article 437 of the amended Criminal Code.

Police arrested Navy on Saturday, hours after he posted a comment on a Facebook post written by a government official in Kampong Thom who attended a celebration of King Norodom Sihamoni’s birthday in the province. In his comment, Navy blamed the King and the Cambodian royal family for last year’s dissolution of CNRP as well as the “loss of Khmer land”.

Nhem Chunly, Stung Sen district police chief, told The Post yesterday that he summoned Navy to the police station for questioning and to take legal action against him.

“He [Navy] wrote the comment in the morning of May 12, and we arrested him at 5 pm,” Chunly said. “He insulted the King in his comment, and he fully admitted his fault.”

Yen Saren, the deputy police chief in Kampong Thom province, said Navy was sent to the provincial court on Sunday afternoon for further action.

“He said it was his own will that made him write that comment, and no one asked him to do it,” Saren said.

This marked the first arrest since the amended article went into effect on March 5. The lèse majesté clause added to the Criminal Code defines an insult as any “word, gesture, writing, picture or other media which affects the dignity of the individual”, and specifically only applies to the King. According to Article 437, Navy could face one to five years in prison and a fine up to 10 million riel (about $2,500).

Ministry of Interior spokesperson Kieu Sopheak said the insult of the King would bring consequences, however it was done.

“No matter if it is Facebook or whatever, we will impose legal actions because it was an offence according the Constitution,” Sopheak said.

During the amendment’s debate, the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights found the development worrying. Noting that a similar law has been abused elsewhere, especially in Thailand, APHR Chairman Charles Santiago said there was “serious potential for its abuse in Cambodia”, adding that the lèse majesté law would likely serve as “yet another addition to the government’s arsenal of legal tools” with which it attacks political opponents.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • Cambodia, CRF win rice battle in EU Court

    The European General Court has rejected the European Commission’s (EC) request to reject a complaint submitted by Cambodia and the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) regarding the EU’s reintroduction of tariffs on Indica rice exports from Cambodia. A court order uploaded to the European

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,