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

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • International air visitor arrivals dip 93%

    The number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia through the Kingdom’s three international airports witnessed a sharp 92.5 per cent year-on-year decline in the first seven months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The airports handled 51,729 international tourists in the January-July period versus

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in