The Svay Rieng Provincial Court on Saturday charged a Cambodia National Rescue Party local official and an opposition activist with forgery and incitement over an 11-year-old birth certificate, recently posted to social media, that seemingly implies Svay Rieng province is in Vietnam.
The official, Norng Sarith, 42, and activist Sok Sam Ean, 38, were arrested on Friday over the document, which lists the location of the child in question’s birth as “Svay Rieng, Vietnam”.
A Svay Rieng Court official, who spoke on condition anonymity, confirmed the charges.
“We have just charged them, and we will investigate this case. We do not know about their punishment yet,” he said yesterday.
Svay Rieng provincial CNRP director Mao Vibol said that when Sarith was making out birth certificates in 2004, there was an influx of Khmer Krom families from southern Vietnam, which may have led to some “confusion”.
However, he added, the document was checked and approved by ruling-party authorities at the time as well, leading him to believe the case was politically motivated.
“It’s on the person who sealed the document, because [the suspects] might have had some gaps and confusion, but they should not be punished like this as it contradicts procedures,” Vibol said, adding that the document was later corrected. “The commune chief who signed it and sealed it and knew that the document was wrong; why did they still seal it? So they should be interrogated as well.”
Sarith’s wife, Pen Vesna, seconded Vibol’s argument, calling it a case of “political spite”.
Sanh Sakhun, Bavet commune chief, could not be reached for comment.
Licadho coordinator Nuth Bopinaroth said that the mistake was discovered and corrected without further action in 2013, when the holder attempted to get an ID card, and accusations of forgery were premature.
“The political tension is getting hotter and hotter, and we observe that when CNRP activists are involved in a small problem, they will be detained,” he said.
“Therefore, to avoid the political tension from getting bigger and bigger, those CNRP activists should be bailed out with a guarantee from their attorney [to cooperate], and the investigation should continue to be conducted.”
Authorities are also investigating a similar case in Takeo province, though Hem Seihak Bora, police chief in Kiri Vong district, said yesterday that there are no results thus far.