Defence Minister Tea Banh met on Wednesday with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss cooperation on fugitives, raising fears that Cambodians fleeing a crackdown may be deported.
“Both countries agree to monitor individuals who escape the law by crossing the border in order to prevent them from using Thailand and Cambodia to create chaos and conflict,” reads a report from the Thai government.
Moeun Tola, a labour rights advocate avoiding a politically tinged case in Thailand, said he is worried the agreement could lead to further rights violations.
“If it is only targeting criminals, real criminals, that is not a problem,” Tola said, adding Thailand should take into account whether a person has been charged for “politically motivated” reasons.
Tola and two other prominent civil society activists were charged with “breach of trust” for allegedly misappropriating murdered political activist Kem Ley’s funeral funds – an accusation Ley’s widow Bou Rachana has dismissed.
In February, Cambodian citizen Sam Sokha was extradited from Thailand after she fled charges for throwing a shoe at a ruling party billboard. Closer cooperation could also spell trouble for Thai activists living in Cambodia who have fled the military junta.